How Does U=u Address Stigma
Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, PLWH have been seen by many as “infectious”, feeding widespread discrimination and the unfortunate internalization of shame and stigma . HIV-negative people feared starting relationships with people living with HIV, and sex with a person living with HIV was seen as a possible health risk to the HIV-negative partner. U=U presents an opportunity to silence those damaging narratives by breaking the link between sex and HIV transmission.
How Often Should I Have My Viral Load Checked
A key part of U=U is remaining engaged in ongoing medical care. If you are using your undetectable status as an HIV prevention method,, it is advisable that you check with your doctor and consider having your viral load tested with the frequency they recommend. No matter what your HIV status is, your sexual health is important and deserves regular attention. If your partner is on pre-exposure prophylaxis , consider scheduling your quarterly medical visits at similar times. If either of you has other sexual partners, these quarterly visits are a good chance to get checked for sexually transmitted infections and keep up to date with your other health screenings.
After I Begin Hiv Treatment How Long Does It Take For The Risk Of Sexually Transmitting Hiv To Become Effectively Zero
There is effectively no risk of sexual transmission of HIV when the partner living with HIV has achieved an undetectable viral load and then maintained it for at least six months. Most people living with HIV who start taking antiretroviral therapy daily as prescribed achieve an undetectable viral load within one to six months after beginning treatment.
A persons viral load is considered durably undetectable when all viral load test results are undetectable for at least six months after their first undetectable test result. This means that most people will need to be on treatment for 7 to 12 months to have a durably undetectable viral load. It is essential to take every pill every day to maintain durably undetectable status.
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Viral Load And Hiv Transmission
A low viral load means a person is less likely to transmit HIV. But its important to note that the viral load test only measures the amount of HIV thats in the blood. An undetectable viral load doesnt mean HIV isnt present in the body.
HIV-positive people may want to consider precautions to lower the risk of HIV transmission and to reduce the transmission of other sexually transmitted infections .
Using condoms correctly and consistently when having sex is an effective STI prevention method. Check out this guide to using condoms.
Its also possible to transmit HIV to partners by sharing needles. Its never safe to share needles.
HIV-positive people may also want to consider having an open and honest discussion with their partner. They can ask their healthcare providers to explain viral load and the risks of HIV transmission.
What Does It Mean To Be Undetectable
HIV medication works by reducing the amount of the virus in the blood to undetectable levels. This means the levels of HIV are so low that the virus cannot be passed on. This is called having an undetectable viral load or being undetectable.
It can take up to six months for some people to become undetectable from when they start treatment.
PARTNER 1 and PARTNER 2 studies provide robust evidence for gay couples and heterosexual couples that the risk of HIV transmission with suppressive ART is effectively zero, which supports the message of the international campaign, U=U .
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How The Study Worked
The study focused on HIVpositive French men who requested sperm washing from 2002 through 2011. All men were heterosexual and had a stable relationship with a female partner. All men were taking combination antiretroviral therapy.
The researchers measured virus in paired blood and semen samples from each man. The tests used to measure HIV could detect as few as 40 copies of HIV RNA per milliliter of blood and 100 copies per milliliter of semen.
In one third of the men, the researchers also used more sensitive tests to measure HIV RNA in blood and HIV DNA in blood cells. HIV DNA is the form HIV takes when resting inside cells that it infects. These sensitive tests could detect 1 copy of HIV RNA per milliliter of blood and 5 copies of HIV DNA per 150,000 blood cells.
How Do I Know If The Blood Transfusion/transplant Im Receiving Is Safe
In most cases, its fine to assume the blood product you are receiving is safe. But if you are worried, it is your right to ask the healthcare professional whether it has been tested for HIV or not.
Blood donors are asked a set of standard questions just before donating blood to help determine if they are in good health or if they have been at risk of HIV infection in the past.
Some groups of people who are considered more statistically at risk of HIV infection are not eligible to donate blood products in some countries â either for set time periods or for life. These groups include:
- Men who have sex with men
- Sex workers
- People who inject drugs
If you fall into one of these groups of people, and you want to donate blood, talk to your healthcare professional who can advise you on whether its safe and legal to donate blood or not.
Other activities may also require you to postpone your blood donation, such as having a tattoo or body piercing or if you are living with a certain health condition.
If you want to know more about donor eligibility, check the guidelines in your country as they are different all over the world.
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Viral Load And Being Undetectable
Medical evidence has shown that people on effective HIV treatment cant pass HIV on.
Viral load is the amount of HIV in the blood.
A viral load test shows how much of the virus is in the body by measuring how many particles of HIV are in a blood sample. The results are given as the number of copies of HIV per millilitre of blood for example 200 copies/ml.
What Does Undetectable Equals Untransmittable Mean
U=U is the name of a public health campaign that has really taken off in the last year and is accepted and endorsed by organizations worldwide. It shares the message that people who are undetectable do not transmit HIV to other people.
This campaign promotes key medical information that is important for people living with HIV to know, but it is also an important concept that reduces HIV stigma in the community. The phrase really encompasses an idea that people who are living with HIV can be free from HIV stigma, and can live their lives more fully, with less fear, worry, and inhibition.
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What Will Being Undetectable Mean For Me
Having an undetectable viral load means that your ART is effectively controlling your HIV. This will protect your immune system and help you to stay in good health.
Being undetectable also means that you dont have to worry about passing HIV onto your sexual partners. For many people this is just as important to them, giving them relief from the anxiety of passing HIV on. Some people find that knowing theyre undetectable makes it easier to with others, as it can be reassuring for others to know that your health is protected and you cant pass it on too.
Are U=u And Treatment As Prevention The Same
U=U and TasP are one and the same, just different ways of stating the same concept about people living with HIV who are on effective ART. TasP has been used widely in medical and public health literature for years and means what it sounds like: taking ART and staying virally suppressed stops people from transmitting HIV, meaning it also acts as a form of HIV prevention. Both TasP and U=U are based on the important goal of having everyone with HIV be aware of their status so they can take ART. ART not only improves the health of PLWH, but also reduces the virus in a persons cells to the point of being “undetectable”. Viral load measures the effectiveness of ART. When a person is undetectable, they do not transmit HIV sexually. U=U has been taken up by the broader HIV-affected community to spread awareness that if you are undetectable, you will not transmit HIV. U=U sends a hopeful, empowering message and addresses the stigma often associated with living with HIV and an HIV/AIDS diagnosis.
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How Do I Explain This To A Sexual Partner
If you have sexual partners who are not living with HIV, explaining U=U to them is likely to be mutually beneficial. If you had previously relied on other means of preventing HIV transmission , you may jointly decide that these methods are no longer necessary because of U=U.
It may take some time for an HIV-negative partner to accept the U=U message and to rely on it as the sole method of preventing HIV. Some HIV-negative people may reject the message or deny its accuracy. It may be helpful to direct your partner to information resources that explain the accuracy and significance of U=U. NAM has also produced a page for people who dont have HIV to help them understand the impact of an undetectable viral load on HIV transmission.
Another option could be for your partner to hear about U=U from a healthcare worker or another reliable and trusted source.
Despite sharing this information, some people may still not accept that U=U. In this kind of situation, it is important to find a balance between providing your partners with information and taking care of yourself.
Many people find it difficult to talk about sex, even with the person who is closest to them. If this is the case, you might want to discuss your concerns with someone at your HIV clinic, sexual health clinic or a support organisation. This can help you clarify your thoughts and what youd like to say.
How Can Service Providers Improve The Uptake And Correct Use Of Hiv Treatment And An Undetectable Viral Load To Prevent The Sexual Transmission Of Hiv
Educational and counselling activities for people whether they have HIV or are at risk for HIV should include information on the HIV prevention benefits of treatment and an undetectable viral load, along with information on the other highly effective ways to help prevent HIV. These include PrEP, PEP, condoms for sex and new equipment for using drugs. Encourage clients to choose the combination of strategies that will work most effectively for them as there are multiple approaches to HIV and STI prevention that can be combined in different ways. Discuss how the use of HIV treatment to maintain an undetectable viral load fits into a comprehensive plan for sexual health including regular STI testing and safer sex practices.
Education and counselling on the use of this HIV prevention strategy should include a discussion about the large body of evidence showing that people on HIV treatment who maintain an undetectable viral load do not transmit HIV through sex. Education should also include the factors necessary for maximizing the effectiveness of this strategy. Emphasize the following:
You can also lead or support efforts to improve awareness of the use of HIV treatment to maintain an undetectable viral load as a prevention approach among a range of service providers in your area including doctors, nurses, pharmacists and non-clinical staff at community-based organizations.
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How Long Do I Need To Be On Art And Be Undetectable In Order Not To Transmit Hiv
First, being on ART and being undetectable are two different things. When you start on ART, it takes a while for the medication to do its job. Generally, if the ART is working, it should reduce the amount of virus in your blood to an undetectable level within a few months. Once you are undetectable , you then need to stay undetectable for at least six months before your HIV is considered “untransmittable.” In other words, you need at least two confirmatory tests that your viral load is less than 200 copies/mL – at the beginning and the end of a six-month period – before you can use your undetectable status as a method of HIV prevention.
How Well Does The Use Of Hiv Treatment To Maintain An Undetectable Viral Load Prevent The Sexual Transmission Of Hiv
Research conducted in serodiscordant couples shows that consistent and correct use of HIV treatment to maintain an undetectable viral load is a highly effective strategy to prevent sexual HIV transmission for both heterosexual and same-sex male couples. Evidence from this research shows that when people are on successful treatment and engaged in care they do not transmit HIV through sex.
Results from a large two-phase observational study known as PARTNER/PARTNER2 showed that treatment and an undetectable viral load prevents sexual HIV transmission in both heterosexual and same-sex male couples in the absence of other forms of HIV prevention . The first phase of the study included heterosexual and same-sex male couples, and the second phase continued with only same-sex male couples. In this study there were many unprotected sex acts when the HIV-positive partners viral load was undetectable approximately 36,000 among heterosexual couples and 76,000 among same-sex male couples enrolled in the study. By the end of the study, there were no HIV transmissions between couples in the study when the HIV-positive partner was on treatment and had an undetectable viral load. However, 16 new HIV infections were transmitted from a sex partner outside of the relationship.
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Bites That Break The Skin
A bite that opens the skin and causes bleeding can lead to the transmission of HIV. However, according to the
goes up with increasing viral load.
Viral load is highest both during the early phase of HIV and without treatment with antiretroviral medications. Taking antiretroviral medications every day can reduce a persons viral load to very low levels that cant be detected through testing.
In this way, antiretroviral medications arent only a treatment, but an important tool for prevention. When HIV cant be detected in the blood, a person living with HIV cant sexually transmit the virus to a partner without HIV.
This principle is called Undetectable = Untransmittable and has been supported by
up to 6 months of taking antiretroviral medications each day to achieve an undetectable viral load.
A persons viral load is said to be durably undetectable when all test results are undetectable for at least 6 months after the first undetectable result.
Theres no need to be afraid of having casual contact with someone who is living with HIV. The virus doesnt live on the skin and cant live very long outside of the body.
Additionally, bodily fluids like saliva, tears, and sweat dont transmit HIV either.
Therefore, casual contact, such as holding hands, hugging, or sitting next to someone who has HIV, wont transmit the virus. Closed-mouth kissing isnt a threat either.
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What If There Is An Actual Or Suspected Exposure To Hiv
The decision to begin a post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV infection is based on the judgment of a health care professional and should be a joint decision with the exposed worker. PEP often involves taking a combination of 2 or 3 antiretroviral drugs for about 4 weeks. PEP can help reduce, but not eliminate, a personÃ¢s risk of infection. The PEP should begin as soon as possible, as it may be less effective if started more than 72 hours after exposure.
Occupational Groups Risking Exposure to the AIDS Virus
The occupational groups listed below risk exposure to HIV in the workplace. The table that follows suggests preventive measures for these groups. For many situations, using all protective barriers listed in the table is not necessary, but workplaces should always make them available in case of emergency response scenarios.
Surgeons, Nurses and Nurses Aides
Surgeons, nurses and nursesâ aides should take precautions to avoid needlestick injuries, cuts with sharp instruments and exposure through skin lesions to potentially infectious blood and body fluids.
Physicians and Laboratory Workers
These people continuously handle infectious samples. Doctors, in diagnosing HIV patients, carry out physical examinations and collect blood samples. Laboratory technicians analyze potentially infected samples.
Embalming the bodies of persons with a HIV infection presents a risk because HIV can live for hours in a deceased body.
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Does Hiv Treatment Always Work
About one in six people on their first HIV treatment regimen either never have an undetectable viral load or their treatment stops working in the first year. During the second year on treatment, the chance of your therapy ceasing to work is about one in twenty and this declines further over the next decade to about a one-in-fifty chance of failure in any one year.
So, the longer youve been on a particular HIV therapy, the less likely it is to stop working. Almost everyone who goes on to a second or third regimen reduces their viral load to an undetectable level.
If someones treatment does not result in viral load becoming undetectable, this is usually because they are having problems taking their treatment as prescribed, i.e. they dont take all their pills at the right time, without missing doses. Occasionally missing a dose of medication is unlikely to cause your viral load to become detectable again, but frequently missing doses may lead to a detectable viral load and should be avoided.
If you are having problems sticking with your treatment, talk to your doctor and they may be able to find a drug combination that suits you better.