A meta analysis of available research suggests that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have a minimal effect on the HIV viral load of those who are taking antiretrovirals (ARV) for the virus. However, there is scant evidence about the effect of STI infections on HIV transmission. Publishing their findings in BMC Infectious Diseases, researchers reviewed 14 published studies (selected from a literature review of 1,630 papers) that included 4,607 viral load measurements from 3,835 HIV-positive individuals taking ARVs.

The researchers did not find studies fitting their criteria that estimated the likelihood of transmitting HIV among groups those who were not infected with STIs as well as groups of those who were.

The meta analysis found that having an STI was associated with a 29 percent rise in viral load. However, this finding was not statistically significant, meaning it could have occurred by chance.

The researchers concluded that having an STI is not likely to reduce the effectiveness of ARVs as a form of HIV prevention. (If someone has an undetectable viral load while on ARVs there is very little chance of them transmitting HIV.) However, the investigators were not able to find enough data to rule out the possibility that particular STIs may increase the likelihood of HIV transmission while someone is taking ARVs.

To read the study, click here.