Great news from the most recent data of The Partners Study that looked at rates of HIV transmission between couples where one partner is living with HIV and the other is not.
This study has shown that when a HIV positive person is on treatment that suppresses the HIV virus to a “non detectable level”, that is < 200 copies of virus per ml of blood, there have been no cases of HIV transmission.
This demonstrates that HIV treatment not only offers great health benefits for people living with HIV but also helps reassure that even if sex happens without condoms the HIV virus is not able to be transmitted.
To me this demonstrates a few key points:
HIV transmission is most likely occurring in people who have not yet had access treatment. This may be because they are not aware of their HIV status due to recent infection or they not have been tested in some time. All sexually active people should have a full sexual health screening every year.
I hope this data will help reduce discrimination against people living with HIV. People who are able to access treatment are taking a strong role in control of their own health but also have a vital role when it comes to our goal of zero new HIV cases by 2020.
Key Points Question: What is the risk of HIV transmission though condomless sex from an HIV-positive person taking suppressive ART?
Findings: In this observational study in HIV-serodifferent heterosexual and MSM couples having ongoing condomless sex over 1238 couple-years of follow-up, there were no cases of within-couple HIV transmission (upper 95% confidence limit of 0.30/100 couple-years of follow-up).
It’s always great to see when a doctor is clearly enthusiastic and motivated about a topic. In this video Dr Raphael Landovitz is clearly a wonderful PrEP advocate.
I love how he not only covers “the PrEP Standards” i.e. risks, side effects and risk reduction, but he goes further. He tackles the more difficult topics such as addressing heterosexual HIV risk, condom fatigue and the endemic slut shaming that occurs not only by “community” groups but even worse, doctors.
I urge you to take this message to heart. Talk to people about this amazing technology that is reducing HIV risk. Don’t let the silence continue.
As reported in the Star Observer, the NSW Health Department Australia is looking to change the way that people who have recently had a positive HIV test have their information reported to the health department.
In the past a coding system was used to “de-identify” the person so if a lay person was to access the data they would not be able to work out who the individuals are.
Changes are being made to change this so a person’s full name would be used in the register to make epidemiologist data collection an easier task.
Sadly many people living with HIV are already living with discrimination as a result of this infection. I have personally seen many patients who are too fearful to have HIV testing done for fear of their name being added to any sort of register.
HIV stigma is real. There are people genuinely fearful of loss of privacy of an already stigmatized diagnosis. Some people would rather not get tested if it means they won’t be put on a register.
Having a person’s full name on a government record is creating a barrier to people getting tested. Without testing in a safe and confidential manner we are not able to help people seek the highly effective treatments available for HIV.
If you are living in HIV I strongly urge you to talk with your local member about the importance of privacy in all medical data. Not just HIV.
I urge you to submit your thoughts via post or email here:
Health Protection NSW, NSW Ministry of Health
Locked Bag No. 961
North Sydney NSW 2059
Email: [email protected]
“This country used to lead the way in the fight against the HIV epidemic, but today, our national health service has washed its hands of one of the most stunning breakthroughs we’ve seen – a pill which, if taken correctly, is almost 100% effective in preventing HIV. A pill which is already available in America, Canada, France, Kenya and soon to be Australia.
Thankfully for Australian’s PrEP has been approved for HIV prevention and there are a number of studies that are happening in Victoria, New South Wales as well as Queensland:
For many years the only option for preventing HIV infections had been condoms. As noted in the video with only 80% of people using condoms there needs to be way to help protect those who are not able to reliably use condoms with each sexual encounter.
PrEP is a fantastic new technology that separates the prevention activity with sexual activity. When taken daily Truvada, the drug used as PrEP HIV prevention can reduce risk of HIV infection by up to 98%.
I also appreciate the note of the importance of getting HIV testing. Currently in Australia approximately 1/3 of people living with HIV are yet to be tested to learn of their infection.
Early diagnosis enables treatment which greatly improves the health outcomes as well as reducing the pool of HIV virus in the community as a whole.
An excellent video on the key strategies New Zealand has adopted to help stop HIV infections.
Remember that PrEP is an important tool to helping reduce HIV within out community and it’s important if you feel you may be at risk of HIV infection to talk with your doctor to see if Truvada is a good choice for you.
Ideal candidates for PrEP include:
People in serodiscordant relationships: Ie One partner is HIV positive, the other is HIV negative.
People who find they are unable to reliably use condoms during sex
Translation? Truvada, the combination tablet of Tenofovir and Emtricitabine has a better risk and side effect profile than aspirin a tablet used daily in the prevention of heart disease.
This is a good news for people who are concerned about the side effects of PrEP such as kidney issues or bone density issues.
In an interesting article on the impact PrEP has on HIV positive community and how it’s removing fear from the table.
There’s no doubt PrEP is changing the landscape of how we hookup, love or fuck as people living with HIV. Some people have said for the first time PrEP takes the anxiety out of sex. With PrEP they’ve discovered a sexual freedom they’ve not experienced ever in their life.
Sex has multiple dimensions including intimacy, pleasure, spontaneity and adventure. Experiencing these dimensions becomes much less likely if we are fearful or anxious about either transmitting HIV or acquiring it. The removal of fear and feeling safe when having sex with a partner on PrEP gives a new sense of sexual liberation and freedom that many HIV positive and negative people have never known.
We know that treatment as prevention works and we know that PrEP works when taken as prescribed. As this understanding becomes more widely appreciated in Australia, it will change the way we community, relate to one another, have sex and form relationships. We hope that PrEP will start to break down and dismantle the HIV-poz/neg divide, which will be a quantum shift in our psyche and lived realities.
We’re moving to a new and exciting paradigm. One where we have the chance to form stronger and more satisfying sexual and emotional relationships without the fear and anxiety of HIV. In this new environment, we have the potential to embrace renewed conversations to explore our options openly and honestly with our sexual partners. And that’s a game changer for HIV poz and negative people.
A new report from the National Center for Health Statistics suggests that nearly half of all American adults living with HIV aren’t on antiretroviral medications. It’s these medications that turn HIV from a death sentence into a manageable chronic condition. And not being on antiretroviral therapy doesn’t just harm the person with HIV; studies have shown that those on meds are much less likely to pass the virus on to their sexual partners.
It was initially thought that for many people living with HIV lack of treatment was due to people being unaware of their HIV status. It’s believed that more than 1/3 of people living with HIV are yet to be tested to learn of their status.
It is now becoming apparent that socio economic factors are also impacting availability and access to HIV treatments, a vital key to health of those living with HIV as well as reducing chance of transmission of the HIV virus.
Del Rio said the fact that 48 percent of HIV-positive people hadn’t taken antiretroviral medications within the last month indicates a huge disparity between reality and the goals of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. The international organization hopes by the year 2020 that 90 percent of those who are HIV-positive will know their status, 90 percent of those who have been diagnosed as HIV-positive will be on antiretroviral medications, and 90 percent of those on treatment will have an undetectable viral load.
For those who are HIV negative and at high risk of HIV infection, PrEP continues to be a vital key to reduce risk of HIV infection with Truvada, a medication that when taken daily can reduce risk of HIV infection by up to 99%.