Cutting Edge

"Condom not always needed"

Belgium's High Council for Health, the HGR, has formulated new advice for couples one of which is HIV+.  In future such couples are no longer advised to use a condom to prevent the spread of the virus as long as the infected partner takes his or her meds religiously.

Modern antivirals are so effective that there is no trace of HIV in the patient's blood.  The HIV+ partner can no longer pass on the virus to his or her partner as a result of sex.

Sensoa, the Flemish experts on sexual health, have welcomed the council's intervention.  "It's important that a scientific body now says that a condom isn't always needed!" says Boris Cruyssaert.

People with HIV can now be more reassured. Today there shouldn't be any fear of the virus being passed on by accident.  Moreover, people with HIV will be stigmatised less.

The council bases its new advice on two landmark European studies, the Partner-1 Study and Partner-2 Study.  The new advice is a godsend for straight couples eager to have a baby.  Professor Annemie Vandamme: "A straight couple including a man who is HIV+ can now have unprotected sex and the woman can become pregnant in the usual fashion."

"An improved quality of life, more opportunities within the realm of sex and promoting well-being can justify an end to condom use. This can happen on condition the partner infected with HIV strenuously follows the cART treatment with antivirals and the virus is no longer measureable in the blood."