Low viral load DOES NOT lower chance of transmission of HIV.

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    Mar 05, 2010 8:05 PM GMT
    From right here on RJ:

    http://www.realjock.com/article/1608

    I've listened to HIV+ folks try to dismiss sexual responsibility claiming that their viral load was low. Science says otherwise.

    "But in a result that the study's authors describe as "unexpected," the new study found a slightly higher rate of infection—1.43 percent per instance of receptive anal sex—meaning that the theory that reduced viral loads would make the virus less transmissible appears to be wrong."

    "The upshot: receptive anal sex with ejaculation is roughly twice as risky as receptive anal sex with pre-ejaculation withdrawal or topping by an uncircumcised man, and more than 10 times as risky as topping by a circumcised man. "
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    Mar 05, 2010 9:24 PM GMT
    I seem to be missing the part of that study which correlates viral load to risk of infection.

    I'm not suggesting that undetectable viral load makes barebacking safe; I'm just saying I don't see in the article where that study recorded and tracked the viral load of the participants.
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    Mar 05, 2010 10:06 PM GMT
    here is a longer description of the study referenced in the 1st post

    http://www.aidsmap.com/en/news/542A9F7C-510F-4B65-A3DF-BBE901207155.asp

    here are a few selected paragraphs :

    Researchers attempt to produce an estimate of the risk of infection during sex with an HIV-positive person, but most people’s sexual partners will be reported to be HIV negative or of unknown HIV status. The researchers must therefore use an estimate of what proportion of these sexual partners are likely to have in fact have had HIV (although it may have been undiagnosed or undisclosed).
    Other studies suggest the undiagnosed ones are the most infectious.

    Over a quarter of a million acts of unprotected anal intercourse were reported, and these were broken down by partner’s HIV status, sexual position and (for receptive intercourse only) whether ejaculation occurred inside the rectum. The respondent’s circumcision status was also recorded.
    Notice that they did not break it down by viral load.

    The authors suggest some possible explanations, which would all need to be explored in future research. Sexually transmitted infections (which increase the risk of HIV transmission) were more prevalent in Sydney in the last decade than in the US in the early 1990s. Moreover, primary infection (when people are exceptionally infectious) may play a larger part in the dynamics of HIV transmission than expected.

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    Mar 05, 2010 10:17 PM GMT
    I dont understand why this is such a debate. HIV+ people should absolutely not be shunned for their status - (and I believe that's part of why so many people are defensive about this whole thing) but EVERYONE regardless of their status should be practicing safe(er) sex.

    The instances may be rare- but I know someone who says he got HIV orally. He doesnt know if the guy had a high viral load or not. In either case, he has it now. An "undetectable" viral load doesnt mean there are no copies of the virus in semen or in the blood stream! It simply means that there are very FEW copies! Low risk is not NO risk.

    There have been recorded cases of mother to child transmission (with a mother who is undetectable), as well as male to female transmission with the male being undetectable.

    With those cases being as they are, why would anyone be foolish enough to think that it couldnt happen anally or orally between two male partners?
  • jtcrew65

    Posts: 29

    Mar 06, 2010 12:35 AM GMT
    Although the study does properly quantify overall risk of HIV transmission in the post-HAART era, it comes to its conclusions making the implication that the members of its study that did get HIV did so from people who were receiving HAART therapy. The study can't conclude that HAART is decreasing the chance of an HIV positive person transmitting the virus to an HIV negative person unless there is certainty that people who know they're HIV positive and on HAART are participating in unsafe sex practices and spreading their virus.

    The majority of new HIV diagnosed cases occur due to the fact that the infectious party doesn't know he/she's HIV positive. To determine whether HAART is decreasing the incidence of transmission of HIV, they'd have to show that patients on HAART transmit the virus less often than HIV positive patients who aren't on HAART therapy. This is exceedingly difficult to show (though it can be done through examining the genetic mutations associated with drug therapy in the newly infected recipients). Of the 53 newly infected patients in their study, if the majority of them show genetic mutations in their virus consistent with HAART therapy, you can conclude that the majority of these people still got HIV despite the fact that their partners were on HAART therapy. If not, it's difficult to determine whether their partner knew whether he was HIV positive or not, or was being treated or not.
  • dannyboy1101

    Posts: 977

    Mar 06, 2010 1:04 AM GMT
    ZbmwM5 saidI dont understand why this is such a debate. HIV+ people should absolutely not be shunned for their status - (and I believe that's part of why so many people are defensive about this whole thing) but EVERYONE regardless of their status should be practicing safe(er) sex.

    The instances may be rare- but I know someone who says he got HIV orally. He doesnt know if the guy had a high viral load or not. In either case, he has it now. An "undetectable" viral load doesnt mean there are no copies of the virus in semen or in the blood stream! It simply means that there are very FEW copies! Low risk is not NO risk.

    There have been recorded cases of mother to child transmission (with a mother who is undetectable), as well as male to female transmission with the male being undetectable.

    With those cases being as they are, why would anyone be foolish enough to think that it couldnt happen anally or orally between two male partners?


    I agree. The thing is whether you get it or not, it really is a question of chance unless you are abstinent for your entire life. All it takes is one slip. Barebacking is a serious problem especially with younger guys nowadays. Though it isn't the death knoll in the health realm, there are plenty of issues that can come with it that only make people's lives more complicated. Why risk it?
    I'm not entirely sure that I ever heard an argument stating that undetectable meant HIV couldn't be spread. I do recall the opinion that higher viral load means it could be easier to spread.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 06, 2010 1:55 AM GMT
    http://home-hiv-tests.com/
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    Mar 06, 2010 3:42 AM GMT
    ZbmwM5 saidI dont understand why this is such a debate. HIV+ people should absolutely not be shunned for their status - (and I believe that's part of why so many people are defensive about this whole thing) but EVERYONE regardless of their status should be practicing safe(er) sex.

    The instances may be rare- but I know someone who says he got HIV orally. He doesnt know if the guy had a high viral load or not. In either case, he has it now. An "undetectable" viral load doesnt mean there are no copies of the virus in semen or in the blood stream! It simply means that there are very FEW copies! Low risk is not NO risk.

    I agree. I lived for years with a poz partner, whom I knew was poz when we first met, His viral load was virtually undetectable. But we always practiced safe sex, even doing oral on him with a condom. And I bottomed for him, too, also with a condom of course, without any reluctance on my part. I didn't shun him -- I loved him, as I believe he loved me.

    But we both understood that having safe sex was the only sex we could ever have together. Tragically he died of AIDS, while I remain negative. I wouldn't have rejected another poz partner if one had come into my life, but my present negative partner crossed my path first, and that's who I'm with today.

    I agree with you, that HIV+ men should not be shunned. If the gay community cannot set the proper example, should we expect any better of the straight?
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    Mar 06, 2010 4:09 AM GMT
    Whether its a 100% chance or a 1% chance there is still a chance and people should treat it with respect and fear.

    It's always better to be safe then to be sorry. Simple as that. Your actions and decisions pave your future no matter what.
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    Mar 06, 2010 4:11 AM GMT
    Red_Vespa said
    ZbmwM5 saidI dont understand why this is such a debate. HIV+ people should absolutely not be shunned for their status - (and I believe that's part of why so many people are defensive about this whole thing) but EVERYONE regardless of their status should be practicing safe(er) sex.

    The instances may be rare- but I know someone who says he got HIV orally. He doesnt know if the guy had a high viral load or not. In either case, he has it now. An "undetectable" viral load doesnt mean there are no copies of the virus in semen or in the blood stream! It simply means that there are very FEW copies! Low risk is not NO risk.

    I agree. I lived for years with a poz partner, whom I knew was poz when we first met, His viral load was virtually undetectable. But we always practiced safe sex, even doing oral on him with a condom. And I bottomed for him, too, also with a condom of course, without any reluctance on my part. I didn't shun him -- I loved him, as I believe he loved me.

    But we both understood that having safe sex was the only sex we could ever have together. Tragically he died of AIDS, while I remain negative. I wouldn't have rejected another poz partner if one had come into my life, but my present negative partner crossed my path first, and that's who I'm with today.

    I agree with you, that HIV+ men should not be shunned. If the gay community cannot set the proper example, should we expect any better of the straight?


    Very adequately stated, Red Vespa....Thank you.
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    Mar 06, 2010 4:16 AM GMT
    http://www.realjock.com/gayforums/770005/
  • myklet1

    Posts: 345

    Mar 13, 2010 4:10 AM GMT
    I do HIV Counseling and Testing in Maine. Yes, they have found that an undetectable viral load lessens the chance of transmission. That is not in reference to unsafe sex. It is not to be determined 100% safe, but oral sex without ejaculation in the mouth is a much lower risk.Not 100% safe because the virus can be in pre cum . I was just at a conference with Dr. Claudia Morterell from Springfield, MA