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.
Saskatchewan has led the country in the rate of new HIV infections and the proportion of people living with HIV since 2009. The HIV epidemic in this province is unique from other jurisdictions in Canada in that more than three-quarters of our new infections occur in people who use injection drugs (the Canadian average is less than 14%).
It’s official! The Government of Canada supports U=U, the consensus statement that a person living with HIV does not transmit the virus sexually if they take treatment and maintain an undetectable viral load (“undetectable = untransmittable”).
The news came on November 30 in a joint statement from Canada’s chief public health officer and the chief medical officers of health of all Canadian provinces and territories.
CATIE recently endorsed the Consensus Statement of the Prevention Access Campaign, celebrating the fact that “undetectable equals untransmittable.” This revolutionary statement, pushed forward by a dedicated group of people living with HIV, has prompted CATIE to reflect on our sexual HIV prevention messaging.
The research on treatment as prevention has been slowly accumulating for many years. As an evidence-based organization, CATIE now recognizes that the evidence on undetectable viral load has reached a point where we are compelled to take our messaging a step further. We can comfortably say that when a person taking antiretroviral treatment has an ongoing undetectable viral load and is engaged in care, they do not transmit HIV to their sexual partners.
This is why we decided to sign on to U=U:
The CATIE Blog hosts the views and opinions of people and organizations working and volunteering in Canada’s response to HIV and hepatitis C.