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

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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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  comments 1 - 3 (of 3 total)    

notpos59, , 2008-07-14 09:30:13
I met, a fell, for a doctor. I told him I was negative (just tested), careful and w/o sex for 9 months. He smiled. He did not want condoms and I, for once, trusted. I ASSUMED he was negative. He admitted, with guilt, a week later that he was HIV but non-detectable 2+ years and on meds and could not transmit the virus so it was ok and should still be ok to continue w/o protection. He showed me this article to support it. I am very confused but reluctant to do anything now w/o protection. Help!

Premaya, , 2008-05-08 10:16:35
I hope people don't irresponsibly take this news as permission not to tell potential partners of their status, which I consider akin to rape no matter what the Swiss doctor says. I also would hate to put my negative partner at any risk whatsoever -- who knows when a flu or other health challenge can quietly undermine my undetectability? I also hope there are studies done on same-sex couples as well. The omission of homosex from their study is an egregious flaw.

bruce, wilton manors, 2008-05-06 09:43:05
My primary hiv care said the same thing. I think that there may be a chance but if the VL gets to undetectable (less than 50) the chances are very small of transmission if at all

comments 1 - 3 (of 3 total)    

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