Living with HIV

Treatment as Prevention

Treatment as prevention (TasP) refers using antiretroviral treatment (ART) to suppress a person’s vial load and decrease the risk of HIV transmission. A study of serodiscordant (positive and negative) heterosexual couples in 2011 found that being on treatment reduced the risk of HIV being passed on by 96%. This study, known as HPTN 052, has proven (IAS 2015) without doubt that effective treatment reduces or virtually eliminates onwards transmission of HIV. Since then, NAPWHA’s ‘Start the Conversation’ campaign and ACON’s ‘Ending HIV’ campaign have both made earlier treatment part of their message about HIV prevention.

The following things need to happen for treatment to work as prevention:

  • You have ‘suppressed’ viral load — either undetectable or very low
  • You don’t have any sexually transmissible infections (STI) and get regular sexual health care.

Having an STI can cause increased viral load in genital tissues and secretions, even when viral load in samples of your blood is low.  If you are sexually active and want to rely on treatment as prevention, ask your GP to include sexual health care in your appointments for HIV monitoring (CD4 and viral load).