How Do I Know If My Viral Load Is Undetectable
The only way to know if your viral load is undetectable is through an HIV viral load or HIV RNA test that your doctor or health care provider can do. You will need to have your blood drawn for this test, and the test will determine the level of virus in your blood that day. If the level of virus in your blood is below the limit of detection of the test, then we say your virus is undetectable.
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.
“For as long as your viral load stays undetectable, your chance of passing on HIV to a sexual partner is zero.”
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.
What Does This Mean For Me
‘Undetectable equals Untransmittable’ has been a life-changing finding for many people living with HIV. It means that if you are on effective treatment with an undetectable viral load, you do not have to worry about passing on HIV through sex, even if you do not use a condom.
This has helped many people living with HIV have more fulfilling sex lives and less anxiety around sex.
Knowing that ‘Undetectable equals Untransmittable’ is especially useful for people wishing to have a child. Couples in which one person has undetectable HIV and the other is HIV negative can have unprotected sex in order to conceive.
However, the law on HIV may not have caught up with the science. In some countries, condomless sex without disclosing your HIV status is a criminal offence, regardless of the likelihood of HIV transmission. For information on specific countries, visit our page on criminalisation laws around the world.
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What Role Do Condoms Play In Hiv Prevention
Condoms are very effective at preventing HIV transmission when used properly, but they generally arent necessary in a monogamous relationship if your partners HIV treatment is effective and youve both been screened for other STDs, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.
If your relationship isnt monogamous, I would recommend condoms to protect your partner, especially if they dont know youre nonmonogamous, because of the STD risk , says Gandhi. Yeah, theyre treatable, but they can have harmful effects, including significant discomfort, she notes. And, of course, using condoms helps protect you from getting HIV from other sexual partners.
Can My Viral Load Continue To Change
Yes, your viral load can continue to change. This would usually be a result of factors to do with your adherence , or other health issues. Regular viral load monitoring will help you stay on top of these changes, so you can manage your health accordingly.
Your viral load usually drops quickly after first starting treatment, however it may be a while before it reaches a point where its undetectable. Most people who adhere properly to their treatment become undetectable after about six months, but its important that you have a viral load test to confirm this.
While changes to viral load can occur, they should be relatively uncommon for people who adhere properly to their medication and are otherwise in good health. Your viral load monitoring appointments are there to help you to identify and respond to any changes in your viral load.
These appointments also give you time to discuss any difficulties you are having with your medication. Often big life changes, like starting a new relationship or moving to a new place, can make adherence more difficult. Your healthcare worker can help you with any new challenges and work with you to stay healthy and keep your viral load low.
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What We Know About Hormone And Steroid Injecting
Hormone and steroid injections can be done safely by a health care provider. But theres a chance that someone can get or transmit HIV if an HIV-negative person uses needles, syringes, or other injection equipment after someone with HIV has used them. This is because the needles, syringes, or other injection equipment may have blood in them, and blood can carry HIV. Likewise, youre at risk for getting or transmitting hepatitis B and C if you share syringes because these infections are also transmitted through blood.
More Information About 1 out of every 10 HIV diagnoses in the United States is among people who inject drugs. This includes gay and bisexual men who inject drugs. On average, an HIV-negative person has a 1 in 420 chance of getting HIV from a needlestick if the needle or syringe contains HIV-infected blood.
More Information There may be extremely tiny amounts of blood in syringes or works that you may not be able to see, but could still carry HIV. Be aware that HIV can survive in a used syringe for up to 42 days depending on temperature and other factors.
There are medicines to treat hepatitis B. If youve never had hepatitis B, theres a vaccine to prevent it. There are medicines to treat hepatitis C, but they arent right for everyone. Theres no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. Talk to your health care provider to learn more about hepatitis B and C.
What Does U=u Mean In Relation To Hiv Prevention
Have you ever heard the phrase U=U before?
U=U stands for: Undetectable = Untransmittable.
This catchphrase originated as a campaign slogan used to bring awareness about HIV transmission and to promote the use of HIV treatment plans and prevention methods.
The campaign was launched by Prevention Access in 2016 to fight HIV stigma and help people at high risk of HIV transmission receive prevention treatments. And it seems like their efforts have been successful. Since 2014, the number of people diagnosed with HIV in the United States has remained stable overall, with some numbers dropping significantly for specific demographics.
But you may be wondering, what do the words undetectable and untransmittable mean in regards to HIV?
Lets break down what U=U really means and everything that you need to know to protect yourself and others from HIV transmission.
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What Does U=u Mean For Me If I Dont Have Hiv
You dont need to be afraid of getting HIV when your sexual partner is undetectable. As stated in the NAM aidsmap resource Undetectable viral load and transmission information for HIV-negative people, If you have a partner with HIV who is on treatment and has an undetectable viral load, they will not pass HIV on to you even if you dont use condoms. However, if you have other sexual partners, you could still contract HIV outside the relationship, possibly from someone who does not know that they have HIV. In these instances, prevention methods such as condoms or PrEP may still be important. It is important to remember that while an undetectable viral load will prevent transmission of HIV, it does not protect you or them from other sexually transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancy. Condoms are highly effective at preventing STIs. Condoms and other birth control options may be considered to prevent pregnancy as well.
About Undetectable And Hiv
Chances are youve probably heard of the term undetectable, undetectable viral load or UVL when chatting to friends or potential sexual partners, on apps or social media, or in blogs, magazines and medical journals.
But, what does it mean?
Having an undetectable viral load not only improves a HIV positive guys overall health, but it also means he wont transmit HIV to his partners. When a HIV positive guy is on treatment, within six months he can, in most cases, achieve an UVL.
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Cdc Backing Could Help Lessen Stigma
Misinformation, stigma, and fear around HIV remains prevalent.
People diagnosed with HIV overestimate the risk of infecting their HIV-negative partner. Even though only 10 percent of participants in a recent survey had non-suppressed viral loads, a third of respondents believed their chance of infecting a partner was high, according to AIDSMAP.
We hope the CDCs endorsement of this fact helps lessen the stigma that still exists around people living with HIV, and that it encourages an open dialogue between sexual partners about their status, treatment, and prevention methods, said Sawyer.
Prevention Access Campaign has been a leader in education around the issue with the U=U campaign.
Advocates also hope the CDCs backing will provide additional leverage for challenging state nondisclosure laws, which criminalize HIV-positive people who dont disclose their HIV status.
Sawyer pointed out, The CDCs acknowledgement is a further indication that our laws around nondisclosure are no longer supported by the current accepted science and research about HIV transmission.
My Boyfriend Hid His Hiv Status From Me
Illustration by Jack Raybuck
Dear WEASS: If youre worrying about HIV at the moment, WEASS, youre worrying about the wrong virus. Unless youre lucky enough to live in New Zealand, you and the boyfriend shouldnt be inviting men over for threesomes right now.
Assuming you do live in New Zealand
I dont think your boyfriend is morally obligated to disclose that hes HIV-positive to a casual sex partner, WEASS, but in some states he is legally obligated to disclose that fact. While rarely enforced, these HIV disclosure laws almost always have the opposite of their intended effect. Instead of creating a culture of testing and disclosure, these laws disincentivize getting testedbecause someone who doesnt know theyre HIV-positive cant get in trouble for failing to disclose.
In answer to your question, WEASS, I think it would unreasonable for you to force your boyfriend to disclose his HIV status the person you want to invite over for a threesomebut, again, HIV disclosure laws might require your boyfriend to disclose.
Woman Over Regular Degradation
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If I Have A Viral Load Blip Could I Pass On Hiv
People with an undetectable viral load sometimes experience what are called blips in their viral load. Their viral load increases from undetectable to a low but detectable level before becoming undetectable again on the next test.
For example, your viral load may temporarily rise to 60 copies/ml or 150 copies/ml. This should not be a cause for concern.
Remember that in the PARTNER and Opposites Attract studies, undetectable was defined as below 200 copies/ml. These studies showed that transmission does not occur below this level.
However, a blip could indicate a problem if it happens around the same time as missed or late doses of your medication, or if your viral load stays above detectable on two consecutive tests.
What Does Undetectable = Untransmittable Mean
Undetectable means that a test cannot detect the virus in the blood of a person living with HIV, although extremely small amounts of HIV are still present. Someone who takes HIV treatment and is undetectable for 6 or more continuous months does not transmit the virus through sex.
Undetectable also means the virus is being well controlled by HIV meds. If a person with undetectable HIV stops their medications, the virus will return to a detectable level, which then increases the risk of transmission.
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Does Everyone Who Starts Hiv Treatment Become And Remain Undetectable
Nearly everyone who starts ART finds a drug regimen that works within six months. About one out of six people will need additional time to find the right treatment due to possible side effects and adherence issues. Continuing treatment and getting regular viral load monitoring are important to maintain an undetectable viral load.
Does Being Durably Undetectable Mean That The Virus Has Left My Body
Even when viral load is undetectable, HIV is still present in the body. The virus lies dormant inside a small number of cells in the body called viral reservoirs. When therapy is halted by missing doses, taking a treatment holiday or stopping treatment, the virus emerges and begins to multiply, becoming detectable in the blood again. This newly reproducing virus is infectious. It is essential to take every pill every day as directed to achieve and maintain a durably undetectable status.
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Get And Keep An Undetectable Viral Load
- If you take HIV medicine and get and keep an undetectable viral load, you will not transmit HIV to your sex partner.
- Having an undetectable viral load likely reduces the risk of HIV transmission through sharing needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment , but we dont know by how much.
- Getting and keep an undetectable viral load is the best thing you can do to stay healthy and protect others.
- Learn more about HIV treatment.
What if I cannot get an undetectable viral load?
Some people face challenges that make it hard to stick to a treatment plan. A few people cannot get an undetectable viral load even though they take HIV medicine as prescribed. If your viral load is not undetectableor does not stay undetectableyou can still protect your partners by using other prevention options.
How Easy Is It To Get
Its extremely difficult to give an exact risk of getting HIV. Thats because it depends on a number of factors, including how much of the virus is in the other persons fluids and how its getting into your body . The important thing to know is that while each time you have unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive the likelihood youll become infected is pretty low , those numbers are true every time you do that act. So the risk can pile up if youre having sex with an HIV positive person multiple times. Its also important to remember that you can get infected the first time you have sex with someone.
Its also important to take into account the amount of virus in the other persons blood. When someone first gets infected, the virus goes all spring break on your body while your immune system scrambles to retaliate. During this time of primary HIV infection, you have a lot of copies of the virus in your system, which means you are very infectious to other people. With proper medication and care, you can get the number of these copies very low, reducing the likelihood of transmission significantly.
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Why Do Some People Have Detectable Viral Loads
Access to adequate healthcare, treatment, and viral load testing are serious barriers in many parts of the world. Some people who have access to treatment may choose not to be treated or may not be ready to start. Others start treatment but have challenges with taking their medication regularly for a variety of reasons such as stigma, mental health challenges, substance abuse, unstable housing, difficulty paying for medications, hostile environments, drug resistance, and/or intolerable side effects. Additionally, second and third line ART options may not be available to all.
Some people with low but detectable viral loads also cannot transmit HIV. For instance, someone who is virally suppressed and still detectable cannot transmit HIV. For people living with HIV who are not virally suppressed or undetectable, there are highly effective options including condoms, and in some parts of the world, PrEP, to prevent HIV. Condoms and PrEP can be used individually or in combination to prevent HIV. Everyone living with HIV regardless of their viral load status has the right to full and healthy social, sexual, and reproductive lives. U=U is a call to action to ensure access to treatment, care, and services for all people living with HIV.
Do I Still Need To Worry About Other Sexually Transmitted Infections
Neither HIV treatment nor PrEP prevents other sexually transmitted infections, or STIs.
Ways to reduce the risk of STIs include having both partners tested, limiting the number of sexual partners and using condoms. Vaccines are available to prevent some STIs, including hepatitis B and human papillomavirus .
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How Do I Know If I Have It
You cant tell if someone has HIV just by looking at them. In fact, some people dont know they are infected with the virus for years, because they havent noticed any symptoms. To know your status, you have to get tested.
However, some people experience symptoms in the first two to four weeks after theyve been infected. These are usually described as an extremely bad flu fever, a sore throat, headache, achy muscles and joints, and rash. This is called primary HIV infection, and whats happening here is that your body is trying to fight off the HIV infecting it.