HIV-positive and no longer infectious?

People with HIV are no longer infectious if they follow their therapy as prescribed, and their viral load is below the detectable threshold. This means that they can have unprotected sex, without worrying that they will infect their partner.

It has long been common knowledge that condoms protect against the transmission of HIV. But for several years now, there has also been another means of protection: HIV drugs. Scientists were already aware of the protective effect of these drugs in preventing mother-to-child transmission. Studies have now also been able to prove that consistent treatment with HIV drugs reduces the level of the virus in the body so much that it can no longer be transmitted through sex. In 2008, Swiss experts found that "with effective antiretroviral therapy, individuals infected with HIV who do not have any other sexually transmitted diseases are not sexually infectious". More recent studies have shown that, when a person's HIV therapy is working well, other STDs do not affect the risk of transmission.

Three conditions must be met for someone to cease being infectious:

  • HIV drugs must be taken regularly.
  • Blood levels must be checked regularly by a doctor.
  • The virus must no longer be detectable in the blood.

When these conditions are met, there is no need to use a condom. HIV drugs do not protect against infection with other sexually transmitted diseases, however.

" HIV-infizierte Menschen ohne andere STD sind unter wirksamer antiretroviraler Therapie sexuell nicht infektiös " ("People with HIV who have no other STDs are no longer sexually infectious if antiretroviral therapy is effective"), Federal Commission for AIDS-related Issues, 2008

HIV is not transmitted under fully suppressive therapy: The Swiss Statement–eight years later
(Pietro L. Vernazza , Edwin J. Bernard, 2016)

For more information: Therapy as protection