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ACT UP Dublin applauds HSE statement on HIV

The HSE’s information outlines that when antiretroviral treatment is working properly, there is “effectively no risk that a person with HIV can pass on HIV to another person”.

The advocacy group said it is the strongest statement yet from the HSE on the preventative power of HIV treatment.

“Joining UNAIDS, the US CDC, The Lancet journal, Public Health England, and other health authorities, the HSE has placed its official imprimatur on the medical consensus that when a person is on effective HIV treatment there’s ‘effectively no risk’ that they will pass on the virus to a sexual partner,” said the group. “In the ‘Treating HIV’ section of the revised page, the HSE writes that treatment not only ‘enables most people with HIV live a long and healthy life’ but that when the treatment is working properly, there is effectively no risk that a person with HIV can pass on HIV to another person.”

ACT UP Dublin member Mr Thomas Strong said: “Knowing that treatment not only keeps us healthy but keeps our partners safe is of enormous value to people like me living with HIV. The risk of passing on the virus is something that weighs heavily on us. It’s reassuring to know that there’s something we can do to eliminate that risk.”

The organisation said the HSE’s new statement builds on last year’s booklet, ‘Antiretroviral Therapy for People Living with HIV in Ireland’, which noted that “HIV treatment is also beneficial from a population perspective in that it prevents HIV being passed on to others” and that “for many people living with HIV, the reduction of infectiousness and relief from anxiety about passing on HIV are very important benefits of HIV treatment”.

That publication explained that in the large-scale PARTNER study “people with HIV who were taking treatment with an undetectable viral load did not pass on HIV to their partner”. The Opposites Attract study—which looked specifically at gay male couples—found the same result: no HIV transmissions from someone on effective HIV treatment to partner who was HIV-negative.

ACT UP Dublin was the first organisation in Ireland to become a community partner with the Prevention Access Campaign’s ‘Undetectable=Untransmittable’ initiative. To promote this information, the group has organised direct actions, produced educational materials, published articles and produced a short video called ‘Love and Suppression’ which features a Dublin couple who were part of the PARTNER study.

This news underscores the importance of testing and treatment in an overall strategy to reduce new HIV transmissions in Ireland, it added.

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