May #144 : No Viral Load=No Transmission? - by Laura Whitehorn

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Table of Contents

HIV: Behind the Music

Taking Care of Business

Not by Meds Alone

No Viral Load=No Transmission?

The Stand

Staphing Up


Heads of the Class

Heartburn Hotel

Protein Shakers

Mercury Rising

Britain: Hep C Rings Twice

Pill-Taking Tip

Cardio Risk Raiser

Cholesterol Downer

What's a Girl to Do?

Runaway Hit

The Mother of All HIV Tests

Lights! Camera! Bareback Action!

Prom Night Prep

Apply as Directed

Strong-arming HIV

Healing Fields

Jargon: DWI

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Melrose Place 2.0


Rock Out

Ladies First

Editor's Letter-May 2008

Mailbox-May 2008

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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May 2008

No Viral Load=No Transmission?

by Laura Whitehorn

In January, the Swiss Federal Commission for HIV said what many HIV-positive people have been saying—or hoping—for a long time: that positive people whose viral load has been consistently undetectable and who don’t have another sexually transmitted infection (STI) are not “sexually infectious.” Bernard Hirschel, MD, says he and others issued the statement to protect people with HIV. Some positive people, he points out, are prosecuted for potentially transmitting HIV even though “no virus [means] no transmission.” So couples in long-term, monogamous relationships may be able to forgo condoms if certain conditions are met.

These include: The positive partner sticks to HIV meds and is consistently monitored (twice a year or more), has been undetectable for at least six months, and has no other current STIs (which could cause genital sores, inflammation and an HIV viral-load spike). It’s worth noting that the Swiss statement was based on studies of heterosexual couples. Monogamy is emphasized not only because increasing sex partners increases risk. In one study, the immune systems of long-term positive couples seemed to recognize and protect against their partner’s HIV strain.

Some positive people added their own testimonies that undetectable means noninfectious (to see their comments and add your own, search “not sexually infectious” at Also at Dr. Hirschel discusses the issue (search “condom-free sex?”) on video.

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