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Virally suppressed people have “effectively no risk” of transmitting HIV, says US CDC: but how many are suppressed?
Gus Cairns, 2017-10-03 21:30:00
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used
27 September, National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day,
to announce that HIV diagnoses had fallen in white gay and bisexual men and
remained stable among African-American gay men between 2010 and 2014, its last
complete year of figures.
CDC went further in its release: for the first time, it attributed this
slowing of diagnoses to “the prevention effectiveness of antiretroviral therapy
(ART)” and said that data from three studies had convinced it that people who
take ART as prescribed and maintain an undetectable viral load “have
effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative
This form of words is important. It marks a break with the
CDC’s previous formulation that viral suppression “greatly
reduces the chance” of HIV transmission. The change in wording is being
attributed both to data such as that from the recent Opposites
Attract study, and to the lead given by the Prevention Access Campaign and its “U=U” (Undetectable
equals Untransmittable) message.
Bruce Richman, founder of the Prevention Access Campaign, told aidsmap.com: "The CDC’s updated risk assessment is a historic
shift in what it means to be a person living with HIV, and provides a powerful
argument for universal access to treatment and care for both personal and
public health reasons."