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Surprising Science

Does HIV Treatment Make Patients Non-Infectious?

Two years ago, the Swiss Federal commission for HIV/AIDS released a controversial statement indicating that people who are HIV-positive and on regular antiretroviral therapy do not transmit the disease through sex. This declaration, the first of its kind from any official government organization, was based on four different studies of the effect of transmission rates between serodiscordant couples (one has HIV, the other does not). In each study, there were no instances of transmission among people used their antiretrovirals correctly. 

As physician and AIDS activist Paul Bellman explains below, this news could help to de-stigmatize the disease. The public needs to know not only that people with HIV are capable of living reasonably healthy lives, but also that they are not in any way an intrinsic danger to anyone else, he says. 

The United States has yet to adopt as progressive a position as the Swiss government for fear that it might relax safer sex practices. But when it comes to public health, should there be one truth for the masses and another for the initiated? 


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