Perhaps I should but I don’t actually believe it

Given that I have zero medical training what I think about it is irrelevant of course and yet:

An end to the Aids epidemic could be in sight after a landmark study found men whose HIV infection was fully suppressed by antiretroviral drugs had no chance of infecting their partner.

The success of the medicine means that if everyone with HIV were fully treated, there would be no further infections.

Among nearly 1,000 male couples across Europe where one partner with HIV was receiving treatment to suppress the virus, there were no cases of transmission of the infection to the HIV-negative partner during sex without a condom. Although 15 men were infected with HIV during the eight-year study, DNA testing proved that was through sex with someone other than their partner who was not on treatment.

It is indeed possible to wipe out diseases where humans are the only ones that get it. Smallpox proved that, we’re damn close with polio too. Where there’s a reservoir in anther species – plague, leprosy, say – then we can’t. And yet I don’t really believe this with HIV.

We know that it is highly adaptable, it mutates all the time. All it takes is one more mutation around that current treatment and off we go again.

And given human propensities I think we would be off again. Something that reduces the cost of unprotected sex is, among us shaved apes, going to increase the amount of unprotected sex. Actually eliminating HIV from those currently infected might work but suppressing it? Doubt is somehow.

Sure, it’s great that we’ve stopped infection and all that but the elimination is the bit I suspect ain’t gonna happen.

12 thoughts on “Perhaps I should but I don’t actually believe it”

  1. Astonishing as it may seem, there is a body of homosexual men who seek to become HIV positive. Their expressed rationale is a feeling of community / solidarity with HIV+ gay colleagues and going the whole hog on the gay thing. Google ‘getting pozzied up’ – essentially deliberately living the Freddy Mercury lifestyle until they get HIV. (They don’t now have to fear death from AIDS). I wonder what the medical establishment’s view of this constituency is.

  2. It won’t happen. Adherence to therapy is a huge issue with HIV with many people failing to take their medication and therefore seeing a rise in their viral load. We have the drugs to fully suppress the virus but the people will not take them consistently.

  3. They’re called bug parties where gay men who want HIV get banged by a bunch of HIV+ blokes.

    The negative person is called a “Bug chaser” and the positive dudes “Gift givers”.

    It could be an urban myth though.

  4. Patrick: “Astonishing as it may seem, there is a body of homosexual men who seek to become HIV positive.”

    Thanks, progressives! #thedeathofsociety

  5. “Although 15 men were infected with HIV during the eight-year study, DNA testing proved that was through sex with someone other than their partner who was not on treatment”

    So much for confidentiality of medical tests! Impossible to anonymise it when it’s all of them.

  6. Not everyone exposed to HIV becomes infected, so that is a confounding factor in the study, so it is unsafe to say that all the partners remained unaffected because of the drug regimen of the infected partner. And there was no control group.

    But in any case, AIDS is the effect of infection. Preventing AIDS and preventing HIV infection are two separate things. The infected partners have HIV but not AIDS.

    With respect to that, modern drug therapy may well see an end to AIDS, but that is not the same as eradicating HIV.

    The only effective, practical way to eradicate HIV would be by vaccination.

  7. Thanks Patrick I was wondering about how they found a group of people for this testing, I assume asking people to have unprotected sex with infected people has some ethical issues.

  8. John B – I think this new study is saying that those on treatment show zero incidence of transferring the virus. Presumably as they show zero (measurable) viral load. If this is indeed the case then HIV is not getting transmitted and will die with its current host population.
    …unless the ‘bug chaser’ party crowd get their way….
    …and in our crazy modern decadent post reason world being HIV positive might become a real earning opportunity for those who want to sell their ‘gift’…
    …how does one bring up the ‘head in hands’ icon???

  9. Reynolds is correct. Would work for the West. But the drug will be spread around the world, where half doses or failure to complete the course will result in the drug becoming useless.

    That’s why we have massive antibiotic failures in the West.

  10. HIV is still rampant in other parts of the world, with a lot less access to the appropriate antivirals, so HIV isn’t going to disappear any time soon, even if the effects of it can be controlled in the 1st world.

  11. I’m not sure it was entirely addressed, but the mutability of HIV is addressed by using combinations of drugs. Use a single drug and resistance develops. Use multiple drugs with different pathways of action and it’s far, far less likely. I’ve never looked into the science but I assume it’s to do with the idea that the virus would need to mutate multiple types of resistance in one go. This was one of the biggest advances in HIV treatment.

    Bug chasing – the idea makes me sick.

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