AIDS Drugs Prevent Gay Men From Transmitting HIV Virus, Researchers Say

Researchers in Europe believe to have discovered a way to prevent the HIV virus spreading among gay men, according to a Reuters report Thursday night. This could be the biggest pathway to preventing the virus, and possibly leading to an eventual cure of AIDS, the report states.

A study involving 1,000 gay couples, where one partner had the HIV virus and was taking a suppression drug to treat it, didn't pass the virus along to their partner while having sex without a condom.

A study that lasted eight years tracked serodifferent couples—where one person has the HIV virus and the other is HIV-negative—and found that the person infected with HIV but taking antiretroviral drugs did not infect the partner who was HIV-negative.

Researchers claim the antiretroviral drugs suppress the virus to such low levels in the body that the virus can't be passed on to another person.

University College London professor Alison Rodger, who co-led the research, said the results of their study show there is zero transmission when the drug is taken properly.

"Our findings provide conclusive evidence for gay men that the risk of HIV transmission with suppressive ART is zero," Rodger said.

Rodger said the study could send a message to help end HIV spreading in "high-risk populations," according to the report.

In this particular study alone, researchers estimate that antretroviral treatments prevented 472 transmissions of the HIV from one person to another over the eight years of study.

The study showed that constant sexual partners did not transmit HIV from one person to another, but that the 15 men who had contracted the disease among the nearly 1,000 gay couples actually showed a strain from a virus that came from another sexual counterpart outside his partner in the study.

The Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) became an epidemic in the early 1980's. HIV, which is the virus that leads to AIDS, has affected more than 77 million people in that time period. The report states that approximately 35.4 million have died from AIDS since it became a worldwide epidemic.

Medical experts say AIDS deaths have been declining while antiretroviral treatments keep rising, according to the report. However, the report of cases keeps rising every year—with around 1.8 million cases worldwide.