Sunday, February 03, 2008

"Sexually Non-Infectious"

I first saw this in a post by Bill in Exile and I've heard that a few other gay bloggers have also posted about this...

"Swiss HIV experts have produced the first-ever consensus statement to say that HIV-positive individuals on effective antiretroviral therapy and without sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are sexually non-infectious. The statement is published in this week’s Bulletin of Swiss Medicine.

"The statement’s headline statement says that “after review of the medical literature and extensive discussion,” the Swiss Federal Commission for HIV / AIDS resolves that, “An HIV-infected person on antiretroviral therapy with completely suppressed viraemia (“effective ART”) is not sexually infectious, i.e. cannot transmit HIV through sexual contact.”

"The article begins by stating that the Commission 'realises that medical and biologic data available today do not permit proof that HIV-infection during effective antiretroviral therapy is impossible, because the non-occurrence of an improbable event cannot be proven. If no transmission events were observed among 100 couples followed for two years, for instance, there might still be some such events if 10,000 couples are followed for ten years. The situation is analogous to 1986, when the statement "HIV cannot be transmitted by kissing" was publicised. This statement has not been proven, but after 20 years’ experience its accuracy appears highly plausible.'"

I would very much like to know how other people feel about this statement, because after reading this, I can't stop thinking about it.

I'm happy that viral loads can now be made undetectable to the point of improbable HIV transmission, but I'm afraid that this is only going to create more confusion and chaos in the sex lives of gay men. In the sex lives of everyone.

I believe that a person has the right to do with their body as they would like. If they want to practice unsafe sex, knowing full well that they might seroconvert, that's is their business, not mine.

I also believe that, if you are HIV negative, the only way to ensure that you will remain negative is to treat EVERYONE with whom you have sex as if they are HIV positive. Period.

I know so many gay men who have one kind of sex with negative guys and a different kind of sex - - or no sex at all - - with positive guys.

In my opinion, that arrangement will put you at a much greater risk to become HIV positive. I mean, if you're having unsafe sex with a guy simply because he told you he is negative, you have a better chance of seroconverting with him than you would if you had played safe with an HIV positive guy. The negative guy could be lying about his status. Or he may not know that he's HIV positive. Or he may have just sero-converted himself.

You see? It's so confusing as it is right now. Will this new statement by the Swiss add to the confusion?

Will the HIV positive man with a viral load of zero consider himself, for all intents and purposes, HIV negative and therefore not inform his sexual partner of his status?

Will this increase barebacking, since the HIV positive man is being told that transmission of the virus is now improbable?

Will this cause even more HIV negative men to believe that becoming HIV positive is "no big deal" because after a few anti-virals, you're virtually HIV negative again?

Will even more people believe that AIDS is now curable? I'm sure that several people would believe that if your viral load is zero and you can't transmit the virus, you are indeed cured.

So many questions....

I'm elated that HIV meds have come so far that my friends are able to have viral loads of zero - - I only wish these drugs had been available years earlier to have saved the lives of so many other friends - - but I feel that every battle won against this plague changes our interpersonal and sexual relations in a myriad of ways.

One step forward causes two steps back.

It's a complex issue and I hope that I haven't offended anyone. I also hope that you will share any thoughts or feelings you have about this new scientific announcement.

7 comments:

Aaron said...

On this topic, I've noticed that the overwhelming sentiment (and mine) is in agreement with you. The news that some people with undetectable levels of HIV may be "non-infectious" is hopeful, of course, because I think it gets us one step closer to finding a way to control or wipe this disease off the map.

But I was even more excited about this information about scientists' discovery regarding the way HIV hides in the body (which I've heard from a few HIV-positive individuals is the main reason that a cure is so elusive).

Any new discovery that brings us closer to a new way of treating HIV is exciting to me...because it can lead us new a plan of attack.

Stan said...

After having lost so many of my friends and lovers to AIDS I can't imagine anyone out there thinking or believing you can now have unprotected sex.
Those of us who lived through the great die off of the 80's and 90's know full well the consequences of this dreaded decease.
Any new discovery that brings us closer to a any way of wiping out this decease is truly welcome. But I don't think the general population out there is really that aware or informed these days.
Furthermore who is to really believe anyone out there posting on sites these days that they are HIV-?
I say it's always best to play safe.

Stan said...

After having lost so many of my friends and lovers to AIDS I can't imagine anyone out there thinking or believing you can now have unprotected sex.
Those of us who lived through the great die off of the 80's and 90's know full well the consequences of this dreaded decease.
Any new discovery that brings us closer to a any way of wiping out this decease is truly welcome. But I don't think the general population out there is really that aware or informed these days.
Furthermore who is to really believe anyone out there posting on sites these days that they are HIV-?
I say it's always best to play safe.

Lance Noe said...

Ok, maybe i am just thick in the head. I read it twice but i didn't understand word one of what you just wrote about.

Now, I haven't been in the "community" for awhile so that could be it but is there anyway you could explain this again in an email? another post? or something so that peoples with small brains and HUGE cocks, like myself can get it.

It sounds like you have just said there IS cure for HIV. that is that if you are HIV+ and you take some drug then you are no longer HIV+.

am i truly hearing that? am i lost? i am sooo confused! HELP ME! and what does seroconverted mean?

Gregory said...

Pretty scary stuff. Gays have never been terribly responsible with sex. The good news is that it looks like the gods are watching out for some...while not for others.

Here's to hoping.

Mark in DE said...

Stephen, I agree with you 100%. I fear the news that HIV+ people on meds PROBABLY won't infect someone may lead to more risky behavior. Why take the chance? Seems to me like its the same as playing Russian Roulette.

Mark :-)

Master Aaron said...

Here's my two cents: If an HIV-positive person has a viral load of zero at any particular moment, well that's at that particular moment. Having nursed someone through this horrid scourge, I can tell you that the numbers roll around in the tube like the lottery; yesterday's zero may not be tonight's. So like I tell everybody, do whateverthehell floats 'yer skirt, but do it through the plastic and force your fornicatin' self to find it sexy! Or watch Golden Girl reruns, instead.