Undetectable viral load and infectiousness
An undetectable HIV viral load is the goal of anti-HIV treatment. This does not mean that you have been cured of HIV, but that the combination of drugs you are taking has reduced HIV's ability to reproduce so it can no longer be detected in the blood.
There is a lot debate about how infectious somebody taking HIV treatment who has an undetectable viral load is to their sexual partners. In early 2008, some senior HIV doctors in Switzerland issued a statement saying that a person taking HIV treatment with an undetectable viral load in their blood should not be considered infectious to their heterosexual partner provided:
- Their viral load had been undetectable for at least six months.
- They did not have a sexually transmitted infection.
- They took their HIV treatment properly.
This was quite a controversial statement and there have been few researchers or doctors prepared to publically back it. It's also been pointed out that the research supporting the statement was conducted in heterosexual couples, and that there isn't much evidence about viral load, HIV transmission and anal sex.
There is a consensus, however, that HIV treatment can reduce the risk of HIV being passed on but that a risk of transmission can still be there if a person is taking treatment and has a low viral load.
It is highly likely that there will be a lot more discussion focusing on this controversial area and there are regular news reports on the latest research into viral load and infectiousness on aidsmap.com.