HIV Treatments and HIV Prevention

Anti-retrovirals (ARVs) are used by both HIV-negative guys and HIV-positive guys as a way of controlling HIV and reducing HIV transmission.

Studies show that people living with HIV who are on treatment and have an undetectable viral load do not transmit HIV to their HIV negative sexual partners.

These days, people working around HIV are emphasizing that the use of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) is one of the most important parts of the global response to HIV. HIV Care and Pill BottleHIV-positive guys take anti-retrovirals for their health, which reduces viral load and the chance of transmission as well. Some HIV-negative guys are taking ARVs as PrEP or PEP as a way of preventing HIV.

Why is treatment for HIV-positive guys a form of prevention? ART can reduce an HIV-positive guy’s viral load, which reduces the likelihood of transmitting the virus to others. When more guys have low or undetectable viral loads, that means less HIV infections.

HIV-negative guys also take HIV treatments to stop HIV from making copies of itself in the body, either as an ongoing treatment to respond to any potential exposures (PrEP), or after a possible exposure to HIV (PEP). In recent years, more evidence has shown that the use of ARVs by HIV-negative guys has a potential to reduce overall HIV transmission as well.

Although there are still some misunderstandings about HIV in the gay community, more people are recognizing that the use of HIV treatment by gay men regardless of HIV status plays an extremely important role in HIV prevention across the board.

Check out CATIE’s fact sheet about treatment, including its use as prevention, and about viral load and transmission if you’re interested in learning more.