HIV-positive men who have a fully suppressed viral load thanks to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment also have an undetectable viral load in their pre-ejaculatory fluid, or precum, aidsmap reports. Publishing their findings in the journal AIDS, researchers studied 60 sexually active men with HIV who were on stable treatment for the virus for at least three months.

Previous and ongoing research has increasingly suggested that transmitting HIV when the blood viral load is undetectable is highly unlikely, if not impossible.

The men in this study provided samples of precum, semen and blood.

Eight of the men had a detectable viral load in their blood, ranging between 80 and 640,000; the remaining 52 had an undetectable blood viral load.

Among the men with fully suppressed HIV in their blood, none had a bacterial urethral sexually transmitted infection. One had inflammation of the urethra and one was shedding herpes simplex virus type 2 in his semen. Ten (19 percent) had low-level viral replication in their semen, with seminal viral loads ranging between 59 and 800. None had virus in their precum.

Four of the men with detectable HIV in their blood were shedding virus in their semen, with a seminal viral load between 40 and 96,000. One of these men also had detectable virus in his precum, with a viral load of 2,400.

The researchers concluded that “pre-ejaculatory fluid may not contribute to HIV transmission in men on [ARVs], at least in men without genital infections.”

To read the aidsmap article, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.