PARTNER study findings of zero transmissions amongst mixed HIV status gay and heterosexual couples where the positive partner has a low viral load has important legal implications

As reported today at the 21st Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, the multinational PARTNER study found zero HIV transmissions from condomless sex within mixed-HIV-status couples when the HIV-positive partner had his or her viral load suppressed below 200 copies/mL.

“It really is up to people themselves to judge if anything they do in life is ‘safe’ or ‘not safe,’” Lundgren stressed in the March 4 press conference. That said, these interim results have implications for legal issues around HIV, and for avoiding unnecessary use of post-exposure prophylaxis: If the HIV-positive partner has a fully suppressed viral load, Lundgren observed, “there is no reasonable legal action you could take against people who aren’t using condoms, and there’s really not a major concern if the condom breaks—and there’s certainly no indication for PEP.”