“The time for excuses is over. It’s very, very clear that the risk is zero. If you are on suppressive antiretroviral treatment you are sexually non-infectious” — Dr. Alison Rodger of University College London, lead author of PARTNER 2, presenting at the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, July 25, 2018.
It’s difficult to overstate the power of this message for people with HIV, such as myself, because it changes what it means to live with HIV. It opens up social, sexual and reproductive choices we and our sexual partners never thought would be possible. It encourages those of us with HIV to start and stay on treatment to keep both us and our sexual partners healthy. It’s an opportunity to transform how we see ourselves, how we’re perceived by our families and friends, by our current or potential sexual partners, and by people in general.
The past few years have been a rollercoaster for those of us most impacted by HIV. The use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) by people who are HIV-negative has gone from being discredited and shamed to become one of the keystones of a renewed and revitalized push to “end the HIV epidemic”. The other life-changing piece of research is the landmark PARTNER study that showed us, once and for all, that the sexual transmission of HIV does not occur in people whose viral loads are undetectable. The joyous global uptake of the U=U message has been nothing short of inspirational.
We recently completed a study focused on how to improve SIS-police relationships. For this research, we interviewed SIS managers, program coordinators and police liaisons in Europe, Australia, Quebec and British Columbia, reviewed international literature on harm reduction training for police, and conducted focus group consultations with Toronto-based SIS/harm reduction workers, people who inject drugs and police. Our multi-stakeholder team (including researchers, SIS managers, harm reduction workers and student trainees) used the information we gathered to identify factors that may help to improve relationships between SIS and local police. Here are our five recommendations:
One of the highlights of last month’s 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam (AIDS 2018) was the release of the “Expert consensus statement on the science of HIV in the context of criminal law”. In this statement, 20 eminent world scientists — including two leading Canadian researchers — provided their conclusive opinion on the low-to-no possibility of a person living with HIV transmitting the virus in various situations, including via sexual acts. Published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the International AIDS Society, the statement describes the current evidence on HIV transmission, treatment effectiveness and forensics so that HIV-related science may be better understood in criminal law contexts. You can learn more about the evidence in the statement from the short summary and a Frequently Asked Questions document, both available here.
At this year’s International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, we witnessed several pivotal developments in the global HIV response. We also saw some setbacks in our efforts to prevent infections and improve the lives of people living with HIV.
From clinical science and epidemiology to human rights and advocacy, here are some highlights of the good news and the bad news from AIDS 2018.
The CATIE Blog hosts the views and opinions of people and organizations working and volunteering in Canada’s response to HIV and hepatitis C.