A NEW study has shown zero HIV transmissions for couples with different HIV statuses.

The results of the Opposites Attract study were presented at the International AIDS Society Conference in Paris.

The study is the largest to date looking at HIV transmission risk among gay male couples where one partner in the couple is HIV positive and the other partner is negative.

The research followed 358 couples from Thailand, Brazil and Australia from 2012–2016, with almost half of the participants from Australia.

The couples in the study engaged in over 12,000 acts of condomless sex where the positive partner had undetectable viral load (UVL) through antiretroviral therapy, and the negative partner was not taking pre exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), resulting in zero cases of HIV transmission.

Using UVL to prevent transmitting HIV to partners is also known as treatment as prevention, or TasP.

“People living with HIV have accepted the stinging pain of rejection and discrimination for years based on the fact they were considered infectious,” said Richard Keane, president of Living Positive Victoria.

“Now, based on proven scientific evidence, we can let go of some of the stigma and feel confident that the sex we negotiate with our partners cannot inadvertently result in an HIV infection.”

Treatment as prevention is just one tool that has been found to effectively reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Other interventions are still in research stages and are essential to stop the spread of HIV.

“Along with other preventative measures such as PrEP, using TasP and maintaining an UVL can reassure people living with HIV about their own health—that undetectable equals untransmittable,” said Keane.

“It’s going to take the effort of everyone to see an end to new HIV transmissions.”

Victoria released its state HIV strategy last month, outlining HIV stigma and discrimination as a key target to aid in zero new transmissions.

The study results are another vital tool in the Victorian HIV response as stigma and discrimination continues to be a major barrier for people to get tested or seek treatment.

“Both stigma and discrimination stem from misinformation about HIV,” said Keane.

“The challenge ahead is to get this information and the effectiveness of TasP into the minds of the community.”

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