In the West, most HIV infections occur in men who have sex with other men. Previous evidence existed that people with HIV who followed treatment with antiretrovirals and had an undetectable viral load did not transmit the infection to their sexual partners. Nonetheless, most studies had been conducted with heterosexual individuals, and we wanted to demonstrate that there was no transmission of the virus between homosexual couples, which are also a key population.
In a study with 800 gay couples we showed that adherence to treatment is crucial and reduces transmission to zero. In this case, the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – medication taken daily to prevent infection – in the couple is only necessary until the viral load of the person with HIV is undetectable for at least six months. After this time, PrEP is no longer necessary and the couple may decide whether or not to use condoms, knowing there is no risk of infection. Our research is contributing to the fight against the stigmatisation of people with HIV from not only the medical, but also the social and psychological points of view.