The Opposites Attract Study is looking to find out how much treatment and viral load affects HIV transmission amongst serodiscordant gay couples.
‘We have research amongst heterosexuals showing that the risk is reduced by 96% when the HIV positive partner is on treatment,’ says Professor Andrew Grulich of the Kirby Institute. ‘But there is no equivalent data on gay men,’ he said.
This globally unique research project is being conducted in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns. So far 90 gay couples have enrolled, most of whom live together, although some couples simply have regular sex with each other and are not in committed relationships. Some have been having sex with each other for just a few months and others for more than five years. About half are monogamous. Participants can either be on treatments or not but, so far, the majority are taking treatment.
‘Participants have found it easy to be part of the study,’ says Professor Grulich. ‘And most have been motivated by wanting to help.’
One participant commented that he was happy to support research, especially when the impact of the study is minimal.
‘I want to do anything I can to prevent anyone else from contracting the virus,’ he said Opposites Attract urgently needs more men in serodiscordant sexual relationships. They can enrol at the HIV positive partner’s regular HIV clinic. Both partners are then followed for two to four times each year for blood and STI tests and to complete short questionnaires. HIV positive men in Sydney can also participate in a sub-study looking at HIV viral load in semen.
For more information call 1800 129 073 or go to OppositesAttract.net.au