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.
My Latest Lab Report Says < 20 Am I Still Undetectable
A full range of campaign posters are freely available for download below to help spread the word that Undetectable = Uninfectious. Alternatively if you would like us to send your business or organisation a stock of printed A3 posters along with other information leaflets and booklets, you can order them here.
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.
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What Is The Risk Of Hiv Of Passing Hiv On When You Are Undetectable
People on effective HIV treatment cannot pass on the virus. That is because 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.
It can take up to six months for some people to become undetectable from when they start treatment.
How Long Does It Take To Become Undetectable
It may take 1 to 6 months to become undetectable. Once you are undetectable, it can take another 6 months to maintain an undetectable status. After the 6 months of maintenance, there is no risk of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner.
It is extremely important that you take your medication as prescribed and do not fall out of your treatment schedule, as this could cause the virus levels in your blood to rebound and become detectable and transmittable.
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Why Might People Living With Hiv Get Tested For Hiv
Because we connect with every single person who tests positive at one of our locations, we always ask why people get tested for HIV if theyve already been diagnosed in the past.
It happens for many reasons: People may test with a partner they havent yet disclosed to, they may have mental health concerns that come into play, or they need a letter of diagnosis to access services . Sometimes its because they are confused about the kind of information an HIV test will provide.
Now that weknow undetectable equals untransmittable , some people may have the misconception thatif youre undetectable, you will no longer test positive for HIV. They may think that if they test HIV-negative on an HIV test, theyll be able to show this to their sex partners as a way to prove that theyre undetectable and untransmittable. Or, they may think it will be easier to tell partners theyre HIV-negative rather than undetectable and uninfectious.
If you are living with HIV and have an undetectable viral load, you will still test positive for HIV. But, if you are living with HIV, have been taking HIV medications every day as directed, have a durably suppressed viral load and have been undetectable for at least six months, you will not transmit HIV to sex partners. You are not infectious. Thats the meaning of U=U.
Heres why you will still test positive for HIV even if you are undetectable.
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.
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Suppressed Viral Load And Undetectableis There A Distinction Is There A Difference In Transmission Risk With A Viral Load Of 200 Copies/ml Vs 20 Copies/ml
When it comes to transmission risk, there is no difference between suppressed viral load and undetectable viral load. As long as your viral load is below 200 copies/mL, and has stayed that way for at least six months, your risk of sexually transmitting HIV remains negligible.
The word undetectable comes from the sensitivity of the laboratory viral load assay used. Even if the viral load test could not detect virus in the blood sample, it does not mean HIV has disappeared from the body, but that ART has suppressed the virus so much that the usual lab tests cannot detect or find it.
Undetectable is now commonly defined as having fewer than 20 copies/mL because a lot of lab tests can now detect HIV at that level. And viral load suppression is usually defined as having fewer than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood . However, in the context of U=U, the two terms can be used interchangeably: a person is considered undetectable if they have reached viral load suppression of fewer than 200 copies/mL.
Undetectable = Untransmittable: What Does It All Mean
What treatment as prevention means for people living with HIV and their partners
Withcelebrities talking about U=U we askourselves What does it mean?
U=U isan easy way to remember that undetectable is untransmittable. That means if youare a person living with HIV and your viral load is undetectable, that there isno risk of transmitting HIV to someone who is HIV negative. Undetectabledescribes when the copies of HIV in a persons blood is so low that it does notshow up on a lab test. The test measures a persons viral load.Untransmittable means that a person living with HIV has virtually no chanceof transmitting the HIV virus to someone else through sexual contact.
Generally,antiretroviral HIV medications can, when taken as directed by a healthcareprovider, decrease a persons viral load. Over time, a persons viral load canbecome undetectable. A person living with HIV needs to be undetectable for sixmonths, with two undetectable viral load tests within this time, before theirHIV is considered untransmittable.
Itsimportant that a person who has an undetectable viral load continue to taketheir medications as prescribed to remain undetectable. You can learn moreabout U=U and get screened for HIV/ STIs at one of Howard Brown Healths Sexual& Reproductive Health Walk-In Clinics near you.
Find a location near you athowardbrown.org/walk-in
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British Hiv Association Advice
The ‘Undetectable equals Untransmittable’ campaign is supported by the British HIV Association , which is the professional association for doctors and other healthcare professionals working in HIV in the UK.
BHIVA says consistent use of HIV treatment to maintain an undetectable viral load is a highly effective way to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV.
BHIVA says healthcare professionals should share this information with all people living with HIV. It advises healthcare professionals to explain the scientific evidence behind U=U, emphasising the importance of excellent adherence to HIV treatment and highlighting that U=U is dependent on maintaining a sustained undetectable viral load.
How Is Pep Different From Prep
PrEP and PEP are both forms of HIV prevention for people who are HIV-negative. A big difference between PrEP and PEP is that PrEP is taken before potential exposure, while PEP is taken after possible exposure to HIV. While PEPis prescribed in emergency situations and should be taken within 36 hours of exposure, PrEP is a daily pill that people can take to protect themselves against HIV if they think they will be sexually exposed.
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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.
“For as long as your viral load stays undetectable, your chance of passing on HIV to a sexual partner is zero.”
How Do I Get My Viral Load To Be Undetectable
If you have HIV, take antiretroviral medicines as prescribed by your health care provider. After you start your medicine, your provider will take blood samples to determine when the level of HIV virus in your blood has become undetectable. Once you have been undetectable for six months, you will not be able to sexually transmit HIV as long as you take your antiretroviral medicines and keep your viral load undetectable.
Programs in NYC can help patients start or stay in HIV care and take their medicines every day. These include the Undetectables, the Positive Life Workshop and, for those eligible for Ryan White services, the NYC Ryan White Care Coordination Programs.
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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.
What Does It Mean If My Viral Load Rises
Many different factors can affect your viral load, such as the progress of HIV infection, your overall health, if you are on treatment whether it is working, and even how the test was performed that day. You and your doctor will try to find the cause of the rise in viral load by looking at your past viral load tests and by searching for other clues.
If you see a rise in your viral load, your doctor may ask you to have another test right away. The second test helps to check whether the rise in viral load is temporary or a consistent trend. Temporary changes in viral load can have many causes. For example:
- Sometimes, your viral load may become detectable on a single test and then go back to undetectable on the next test. This is called a blip and it is normal.
- Your viral load may rise temporarily if you have a cold or other brief illness, or after a vaccination. You might want to wait a month after a vaccination before you have another viral load test.
The way a viral load test is done varies from laboratory to laboratory, and this may change test results. Be aware of this when comparing tests done by two different laboratories, especially if they are in different provinces or countries. If the rise in viral load cannot be explained any other way, it might be a sign that you and your doctor need to look at your treatment plan.
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What Does It Mean To Be Durably Undetectable
Taking antiretroviral therapy daily as prescribed to suppress HIV levels leads to an undetectable status. A person is considered to have a durably undetectable viral load if their viral load remains undetectable for at least six months after their first undetectable test result. It is essential to continue to take every pill every day as directed to maintain an undetectable viral load.
The Benefits Of Hiv Treatment: Undetectable Means You Do Not Pass On The Virus
Since its introduction in the 1990s, the main aim of combination antiretroviral therapy for HIV has been to halt the progression of the infection, maintaining the health of the HIV-positive person taking treatment. In addition to this, the impact of treatment as prevention has been well described.
One outcome of an effective ART regimen is that it markedly supresses the amount of the virus circulating in the blood the so-called viral load to a very low level, so that the virus is no longer detectable during routine testing. Successful ART not only improves the health and lifespan of the person living with HIV and receiving treatment, but there is growing scientific consensus that effective ART, leading to viral suppression, also means that onward transmission of HIV is practically no longer possible.
In general, viral suppression, and with it an undetectable viral load, can be reached within six months of starting daily ART.
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Testing Positive On Nucleic Acid Tests
In addition to antibody tests, we also have HIV tests that detect viral RNA not necessarily live virus, but parts of the virus genetic material. These are called nucleic acid tests, and they are able to detect very early HIV infections. These tests are not used as often for screening as antibody tests , because results take longer and the test is more expensive. Usually, RNA tests are used to confirm an HIV positive diagnosis after someone tests positive on an antibody test or to see if a person is responding well to treatment.
Some of these viral detection tests are able to detect virus at very low levels. Some research HIV RNA assays can measure HIV RNA levels down to the single copy levels.
We commonly say someone is undetectable if they have a viral load less than 20 copies/mL or 50 copies/mL. Research studies have defined undetectable as any viral load less than 200 copies/mL.
So even if a person has a viral load less than 50 copies/mL or 20 copies/mL, viral RNA will still be detected with one of these viral detection tests.
How Do We Know That Undetectable = Untransmittable
Three recent studies âHPTN 052, PARTNER and Opposites Attractâ followed male couples and heterosexual couples in which one partner was HIV-positive and the other HIV-negative. During these studies, not one HIV-positive person who was taking antiretroviral medicines and was virally suppressed passed HIV to their negative partner. In the PARTNER and Opposites Attract studies, male couples had anal sex without condoms more than 34,000 times and heterosexual couples had vaginal or anal sex without condoms more than 36,000 times without a virally suppressed partner ever passing HIV to the negative partner. This is strong evidence that people do not sexually transmit HIV if they have an undetectable viral load.
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What If I Miss One Dose Will My Viral Load Become Detectable Again
If you are undetectable, and have been taking your medications every day recently, your viral load will very likely stay undetectable even if you miss one dose. The HIV medications are so good these days that it can take a week or even sometimes up to several weeks or more for peoples viral loads to become detectable after medications are stopped.
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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