Ground-breaking research findings were announced yesterday at the eighth International AIDS Society Conference in Vancouver, Canada, which show reliable adherence to HIV cocktails can disable the HIV virus to the point of no transmission during sexual activity.
The landmark study, financed with more than $100 million in federal research grants, confirmed initial results reported in 2011 and demonstrated that AIDS medications known as antiretroviral therapy, or ART, can suppress the virus for years. The virus can reemerge if the patient stops taking the medicine, but as long as it’s suppressed, the virus essentially is harmless and most patients can lead normal, healthy lives.
“If people are taking their pills reliably and they’re taking them for some period of time, the probability of transmission in this study is actually zero,” Cohen said by phone from Vancouver. “Let me say it another way: We never saw a case of HIV transmission in a person who is stably suppressed on ART.”
Technically speaking, if everyone with HIV could be on ART, there would be the possibility to eradicate the disease.
Researchers made it clear, however, that they continue to endorse the use of condoms. Most of those infected with HIV in the United States (estimated at 1.2 million) are not on medication addressing the virus. Only about 37% of folks with HIV are currently on antiretroviral therapy.