Swiss AIDS Experts Issue Shock Statement on Unprotected Sex

The Swiss National AIDS Commission was criticized by North American and European health experts yesterday after it released a statement saying that it was okay for some HIV+ people to have unprotected sex with negative partners.

Swiss“The Swiss National AIDS Commission said patients who meet strict conditions, including successful antiretroviral treatment to suppress the virus and who do not have any other sexually transmitted diseases, do not pose a danger to others. The proposal, published this week in the Bulletin of Swiss Medicine, astonished leading AIDS researchers in Europe and North America who have long argued that safe sex with a condom is the single most effective way of preventing the spread of the disease — apart from abstinence. ‘Not only is (the Swiss proposal) dangerous, it’s misleading and it is not considering the implications of the biological facts involved with HIV transmission,’ said Jay Levy, director of the Laboratory for Tumor and AIDS Virus Research at the University of California in San Francisco.”

The Swiss health experts based their statement on inconclusive U.S. studies showing that transmission depends on viral load in the blood.

The World Health Organization dubbed the new Swiss ‘rules’ an experiment: “The World Health Organization said Switzerland would be the first country in the world to try this approach. ‘There is still some concern that you can never guarantee that somebody will not be infectious, and the evidence I have to say is not conclusive,’ said Charlie Gilks, director of AIDS treatment and prevention at WHO. ‘Many countries in western Europe would regard this as an interesting experiment,’ he said, adding it was unlikely they would follow suit anytime soon. ‘We are not going to be changing in any way our very clear recommendations that people on treatment continue to practice safer sex, including protected sex with a condom, in any relationship,’ Gilks said.”

In related news, scientists are hopeful about new ways they might target dormant HIV: “he AIDS virus has hideouts deep in the immune system that today’s drugs can’t reach. Now scientists finally have discovered how HIV builds one of those fortresses — and they’re exploring whether a drug already used to fight a parasite in developing countries just might hold a key to break in. Researchers have long struggled unsuccessfully to attack what they call reservoirs of dormant HIV, and the new work is in very early stages.”

AIDS experts: Unprotected sex OK for some [msnbc]

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  1. Gregus says

    Does this now mean that Chi Chi can make bareback porn with impunity? If the ‘models’ are on antiretrovirals?

    My t-shirt now reads “Chi Chi says ‘Think of the models, for the love of God, think of the models!”.

  2. says

    Seems hopelessly stupid, this approach. Nice to have lives used for “an interesting experiment.” And what’s wrong with Chi Chi saying “think of the models?” They’re human beings. They’re adults, so they’re free to choose to take risk—that’s their right. But if they’re pressured to do it by drugs or a dire need of cash, the argument of “free to choose” isn’t really applicable.

  3. Unarmed Militia says

    I reckon what it means is that
    – abstinence and monogamy are positive health choices
    – Chi Chi is right about wrapping up
    – treatment and education can go a long way

    Enough with the glib remarks and put-downs everyone; they might win you a few smirks and boost your ego, but HIV is a matter of life and death and it’s not going away any time soon.

  4. the queen says

    hmmmm…. i dunno ’bout this… i mean the swiss make the greatest chocolate.. i just adore those toblerone bars!… and the alps are simply divine, but i still say it’s best to use condoms, my dears…

  5. Michael Bedwell says

    Gee, when did Andrew Sullivan discover he’s actually Swiss and not British? Kinda like that commercial….

    Well, they didn’t actually say we can stop being concerned about AIDS entirely as Andy Pandy did.


  6. Lee says

    “- abstinence and monogamy are positive health choices
    – Chi Chi is right about wrapping up”

    Uh, that is contradictory. Condoms encourage the OPPOSITE of monogamy, what you just conceded is a positive health choice. They also encourage people to not use their OWN faculties (through discipline) to eliminate disease spreading. I see condoms as paralleling the quick fix mentality of “dieting”.

  7. Richard says

    The Swiss data may work for the Swiss guy who is infected with HIV, but who gets state of the art care, is tested regularly, is ALWAYS with a zero viral count, is ALWAYS in great health, and who ALWAYS has access to the latest and greatest treatments and medications. By all accounts, the Swiss are fastidious and compulsive — they are a different culture, society and economy — traditionally isolated from reality.

    Unfortunately, this is not the case for 99.99% of the world’s population, including the good old U.S. of A.

    So, the data represents a dangerous piece of UNVERIFIED advice derived from a skewed subsegment of the world’s population, surely to be quoted and misused by the barebacking community. HIV is no joke, guys. It is not a simple matter, and the disease — and its remedies — carry endless risks and complications that shorten and compromise the quality of life. There are a hell of a lot of exciting things to do in bed short of barebacking.

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