Model shows potential for substantial long-term HIV risk for serodifferent couples, even with new prevention tools

Published: May 27, 2014

A mathematical model derived from current knowledge about the efficacy of various different prevention strategies has found that, based on these data, the risk of HIV transmission from a person living with HIV to an HIV-negative partner in a serodifferent couple could still be substantial over a ten-year period.

The authors state they undertook their research because people in serodifferent couples (often referred to as serodiscordant) require guidance about the likely impact of emergent prevention strategies (such as treatment as prevention and pre-exposure prophylaxis) alone, or in combination with each other, on the risk of HIV transmission.

They therefore estimated the risk of sexual transmission of HIV over one-year and ten-year periods for gay and heterosexual couples. The risk for heterosexual couples was modelled separately according to whether the male or female partner was living with HIV. The authors, publishing in the online edition of AIDS, emphasise that their model does not say what the actual risk will be. “This model was not designed to predict actual transmission risk for real-world serodiscordant couples over the course of a multiyear relationship,” they say. “Our intent is to emphasize how risk accumulates over time under various strategies and show the relative differences between strategies.”

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