Atlanta – “For HIV-positive MSM [men who have sex with men], taking ART [antiretroviral therapy] regularly greatly reduces the risk of HIV transmission to a negative partner. For persons who achieve and maintain viral suppression, there is effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative sexual partner,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says. “This translates to an effectiveness estimate of 100% for taking ART regularly as prescribed and achieving and maintaining viral suppression. Effectiveness is lower, and there is a risk of transmitting HIV, when persons do not take ART as prescribed or stop taking ART, if viral suppression is not achieved, or if viral suppression is not maintained.”

The CDC also revised its estimates of the effectiveness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). According to its latest estimate, PrEP reduces the risk of HIV infection by 99%, with consistent use at least four times per week. “While daily use is recommended in the US, taking PrEP consistently (at least four times per week) appears to provide similar levels of protection among MSM. The effectiveness of oral PrEP is highly dependent on PrEP adherence,” the CDC now says. For HIV-negative individuals on PrEP, HIV infection is extremely rare and was not observed in any of the new studies cited by the CDC in its update.

HIV activists hailed the long-awaited update to the CDC’s HIV guidelines. “Huge victory, folks,” activist Peter Staley, a treatment activist, said. “The CDC finally updated its page on risk levels of getting HIV, using stats that reflect what the science and the real world are telling us. Having an undetectable viral load (U=U) is considered 100% protective (untransmittable). “PrEP use among gay & bi men is 99% effective. These changes finally remove the confusion between most of our prevention ad campaigns and the CDC’s website (where they had been using older, more conservative estimates).” (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew at Sgn.org/sgnnews47_30/page3.cfm)

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