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J Infect Dis. 2004 Jul 1;190(1):156-61. Epub 2004 Jun 9.

Higher concentration of HIV RNA in rectal mucosa secretions than in blood and seminal plasma, among men who have sex with men, independent of antiretroviral therapy.

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Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98104, USA.


High levels of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in rectal secretions and semen likely increase the risk of HIV transmission. HIV-infected men who have sex with men made 2-3 study visits, over 4 weeks, to assess rectal, seminal, and plasma levels of HIV RNA. Mixed-effects models estimated the effect of factors on HIV shedding. Twenty-seven (42%) of 64 men were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART); regardless of ART use, median HIV RNA levels were higher in rectal secretions (4.96 log(10) copies/mL) than in blood plasma (4.24 log(10) copies/mL) or seminal plasma (3.55 log(10) copies/mL; P<.05, each comparison). ART was associated with a 1.3-log(10) reduction in rectal HIV RNA in a model without plasma HIV RNA; with and without plasma RNA in models, ART accounted for a >1-log(10) decrease in seminal HIV RNA levels. Thus, controlling for plasma HIV RNA, ART had an independent effect on seminal, but not rectal, HIV levels.

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