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The "viral load" of a person infected with HIV is the single most important factor determining whether they are capable of spreading the infection to others, according to a new study published in the Journal of Infectious Disease.
Furthermore, the study revealed that wearing a condom during sex is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of HIV between infected individuals and their healthy partners.
For the study, researchers from the University of Washington examined the health and sexual practices of more than 3,000 couples in Eastern and Southern Africa. In each of these couples, one partner was infected and the other was not.
The results showed that the more severe a person's infection was, the more likely they were to spread it to their partner. Condom use greatly cut down on the transmission of the infection. Results showed that couples who regularly used prophylactics were 78 percent less likely transmit the infection between each other.
The findings suggest that couples in which one partner is infected should consider regular HIV testing. This may help determine the viral load of the infected individual and help couples know if the condition is likely to be transmitted.
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