The United States National Institutes of Health announced today that the results of a new study shows that if an HIV Positive person adheres to an effective antiretroviral therapy regimen, the risk of transmitting the virus to their uninfected sexual partner can be reduced by an astounding 96%.

The study (known as HPTN 052) was done by the HIV Prevention Trials Network where they enrolled over 1,700 sero-discordant couples (meaning one person who is HIV Positive and the other is HIV Negative) from all over the world, including Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the US. Only people with HIV with a CD4 cell count ranging between 350 – 550 were used in this study, as they are not currently eligible for treatment own health according to the latest WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines. The success of the study was so successful, it was stopped almost four years ahead of schedule. Only people living with HIV with a CD4 cell count of between 350 and 550 (thus not eligible for treatment for their own health according to latest WHO guidelines) were enrolled in the study.

Dr. Myron Cohen, HPTN 052 Principal Investigator & Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Health and Director of the Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explains:

“This is excellent news. The study was designed to evaluate the benefit to the sexual partner as well as the benefit to the HIV-infected person. This is the first randomized clinical trial to definitively indicate that an HIV-infected individual can reduce sexual transmission of HIV to an uninfected partner by beginning antiretroviral therapy sooner. HPTN recognizes the significant contribution that this study’s participants have made to furthering the progress in HIV treatment and prevention. We are very grateful for their participation.”

This is a huge breakthrough because not only will it reduce the risk of transmission through sex (which accounts for 80% of all new infections), encourage people to get tested and be open & honest with their sexual partner, and reduce the stigma associated HIV.

Did you know that it is estimated that 33 million people in the world are living with HIV, but it’s also estimated that only about half of them know they have it?

Click here to read the full press release that was released today on this new study.