Evidence now exists that people effectively treated with HIV antiretrovirals and who have undetectable HIV viral loads are unlikely to transmit HIV. This is what is referred to as ‘treatment as prevention’.
In July 2015 it was reported that the most recent findings of the ongoing HPTN 052 and PARTNER studies both showed no HIV transmissions in serodiscordant heterosexual and gay couples (i.e., one partner is HIV-positive and the other negative), where the HIV-positive partner’s viral load was undetectable. The same results have been found two years into an Australian trial with gay male couples, the Opposites Attract study.
The results of these trials confirm the importance of ensuring all people with HIV are offered early treatment, not only for their own health but as an effective HIV prevention strategy.
Treatment as prevention is gaining acceptance as an effective HIV prevention strategy in its own right. Thus couples using this approach may be said to be engaging in protected or safe sex, even if they do not use condoms.