‘The CDC Finally Updates Its Website on the Risk of HIV Transmission in the Age of U=U,’ Peter Staley

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Peter Staley photographed by Walter Kurtz, 2013

HIV activist supreme, Peter Staley, posted the exciting development on his Facebook page. Staley wrote:

Huge victory, folks. The CDC finally updated its page on risk levels of getting HIV, using stats that reflect what the science and the real world are telling us. Having an undetectable viral load (U=U) is considered 100% protective (untransmittable). PrEP use among gay & bi men is 99% effective. These changes finally remove the confusion between most of our prevention ad campaigns and the CDC’s website (where they had been using older, more conservative estimates). I cut & paste the key paragraphs below.

From what I’ve heard, Bruce Richman and Murray Christopher Penner with Prevention Access Campaign did almost all of the behind the scenes lobbying with the CDC to get these updates finalized. Amazing activism, boys!

Key paragraphs: “In summary, the effectiveness of PrEP among MSM [men who have sex with men] when used daily or consistently is estimated to be 100% in studies. However, a few cases of new HIV infections have been reported with PrEP verified adherence, indicating that the risk has not been completely eliminated and that the effectiveness of PrEP cannot be exactly 100%. Given the number of persons on PrEP worldwide (prepwatch.org), the risk reduction (or effectiveness of PrEP) would likely need to be very high and close to100% to observe only three confirmed cases of PrEP failure (new HIV infection despite taking PrEP daily or consistently) to date. To represent the protective value of PrEP while also acknowledging the small number of failures, we indicate the effectiveness of PrEP is about 99%.”

This holds true even if MSM take PrEP only 4 times a week: “When taking PrEP daily or consistently (at least 4 times per week), the risk of acquiring HIV is reduced by about 99% among MSM. While daily use is recommended in the U.S., taking PrEP consistently (at least 4 times per week) appears to provide similar levels of protection among MSM. “

U=U for straight men & women, and gay & bi men: “For persons who achieve and maintain viral suppression, there is effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative sexual partner. This translates to an effectiveness estimate of 100% for taking ART regularly as prescribed and achieving and maintaining viral suppression.”


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