The PARTNER 2 study among discordant gay couples will end in March 2018
The researchers reported details of the first large-scale study PARTNER 2 among men who have sex with men (MSM), at the 16th European AIDS Conference in Milan. The study started in 2014 as a follow-up to the PARTNER 1 project, during which scientists observed almost 1,200 couples in order to find out whether HIV transmission from an HIV-positive partner is possible if they takes antiretroviral therapy and their viral load is undetectable. However, the majority of the PARTNER 1 participants were heterosexual couples, with only one third of MSM participants.
One of the leading authors of the study Dr Valentina Cambiano from University College London reported that during the 27 months of the study 450 same-sex were involved in the project. "At the moment, the study is completed by 85%," she said, explaining that the participants have to make the last visits to doctors between December 2017 and March 2018. Negative partners will have to pass the HIV test, and positive ones - the viral load test. In addition, all of them will have to fill out a questionnaire.
The findings of the PARTNER 1 study showed that no HIV transmission was observed during 58 thousand sexual contacts among the participants. Dr Jens Lundgren, professor of viral diseases at the University of Copenhagen and chief physician at the Department of infectious diseases at Rigshospitalet (Denmark), noted that during the PARTNER 1 study 11 cases of HIV transmission were recorded, but it was "transmissions from outside partners, not from their main partners." Valentina Cambiano said that during the PARTNER 2 project 35% of participants reported having sexual contacts with third party partners, 16% used pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis.
The PARTNER project coordinator Tina Bruun said that the researchers hope to present their findings at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam in July 2018. "But if we do not have results by that time, we will not provide any preliminary information. We want to collect and analyze all the data, so we cannot do this in a hurry. It is in the best interest of the project participants."