THE USE OF ANTIRETROVIRALS REDUCES HIV TRANSMISSION RISK
June 20th, 2011
On November 30th, 2007, Bernard Hirschel, head of the HIV/AIDS Unit of the Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève in Geneva, Switzerland, one of the world’s top centres for HIV research, told the press that “below a certain concentration of virus, no contamination occurs.”
A high concentration of virus (viral load) in an HIV-positive person’s body fluids increases the risk of transmission, conversely a lower concentration reduces the possibility of HIV transmission. Accordingly, the use of antiretrovirals to keep viral load below an undetectable threshold becomes an additional prevention option.
Therefore, stemming the epidemic depends also on access to testing and antiretroviral treatments.
However, it should be noted that the presence of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) causes a local increase in HIV concentration in sexual secretions of HIV-positive persons, even if viral load is undetectable. This can increase the risk of transmission.