BBC: ARVs make HIV+ people become close to non-infectious

This BBC report is about using ARVs to stop the spread of AIDS. In it, Dr. Brian Williams, a leading figure in the field of HIV research is sited:

Speaking at at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Diego, he said 30 million people around the world were infected with HIV – with two million dying each year.

“The tragedy is that the disease continues unabated. The only real success story is the development of these extremely effective drugs that keep people alive and reduce their viral load by up to 2,000 times. They become close to non-infectious.

I make note of this because people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States are given ARV meds so that their viral loads become ‘undetectable’. In other words, there is VERY little of the HIV virus in their bloodstream. This report is claiming that an undetectable state is close to a non-infectious state. If you read between the lines, Dr. Williams does not even mention the use of condoms – he mentions the use of ARVs to stop the spread of the virus. [I could go into a discussion about that, but this post is about the article itself.]

This is the second time I have heard the word ‘non-infectious’ being used. The first time being the Swiss study which says that HIV-positive individuals on effective antiretroviral therapy and without sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are sexually non-infectious.

However, separate research (last paragraph) showed that 10% of men with an undetectable blood viral load had “significant” viral load in their semen which they said meant that HIV could be detected, but were unable to say if potentially infectious quantities of the virus were present.

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