Taking HIV treatment and having an undetectable viral load associated with unprotected sex in Switzerland

Published: November 9, 2010

The ‘Swiss Statement’ about the impact of antiretroviral treatment on infectiousness appears to have had an impact on the sexual behaviour of HIV-positive individuals in that country.

In the December 1st edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases investigators report an association between taking HIV treatment that is reducing viral load to undetectable levels and unprotected sex. The proportion of individuals reporting sex without a condom with their main partner increased after January 2008 when senior Swiss doctors published their statement about the impact of effective HIV treatment on infectiousness.

“In contrast to earlier results from our cohort, which did not find an association between viral load and sexual behaviour, we now observed an association of a suppressive ART [antiretroviral therapy] and unprotected sexual contacts in MSM [men who have sex with men] and heterosexual women with stable partners, indicating that some groups with HIV infection have adopted the belief that treatment of HIV infection is a sufficient HIV-prevention measure”, write the investigators.

An editorial that accompanies expresses some alarm about individuals making decisions about the use of condoms on the basis of their viral load. The author notes that infections have been attributed to patients taking HIV therapy who have an undetectable viral load, and that the understanding of the impact of HIV treatment on infectiousness is still incomplete.

In January 2008 a group of senior HIV doctors in Switzerland published what has become known as the Swiss Statement.

Full text of article available at link below –

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