The PARTNER2 study has been following almost 1,000 gay couples with one partner who is HIV-negative and the other partner who has HIV and has undetectable virus on treatment. The study monitored them having condomless anal sex over 70,000 times. No one who was undetectable passed on their virus.
We are now certain that being undetectable (when the HIV virus not can be detected) is as protective for gay men as it is for heterosexual couples. We already knew this was the case for heterosexual couples (from the PARTNER1 study) and PARTNER2 provides evidence that this is the same for gay couples, which is great news.
PARTNER2 is the largest study to look at the risk of HIV transmission when the partner with HIV has become undetectable. The study followed the couples from September 2010 to April 2018. In this period, the couples had sex without condoms almost 77,000 times but researchers did not find a single case of HIV transmission from partner to partner. The study provides strong evidence to support the U=U campaign (undetectable equals untransmittable).
The study results reinforce that treatment is an important prevention measure to stop the spread of HIV. To stop HIV, it is important that people test regularly and start treatment as soon as possible, when they have been diagnosed with HIV.
So remember if you are having condomless sex with casual partners you should get a full STI check up every three months. If you aren’t protecting yourself with PrEP, you should also test for HIV every month. Don’t forget, you can use the PRIME text to walk into Dean Street Express without an appointment. You can also order a home HIV test online here.