The findings underline concerns over HIV-positive men taking part in trials where they go off their antiretroviral therapies as part of the studies. One man in the French study transmitted HIV to his female partner during his analytical treatment interruption (ATI).
As part of the study, the participants paused their HIV regimens for 12 weeks. Eight of the 10 men involved saw the viral load in their semen rebound in only two weeks, while the other two's viral loads increased in later weeks. All the men at the beginning of the study had viral loads below 20, and research shows HIV is only transmittable via semen when a man's viral load is at about 1,500. During the study, many of the men's viral loads exceeded that number.
“Our data demonstrate rapid and high HIV rebound in semen after ATI, raising concerns about high risk of HIV sexual transmission during HIV cure trials,” the study authors stated.