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.
Hiv Positive And Undetectable: What Does It Mean
Being undetectable means that there is so little HIV in your blood that the virus cannot be detected by a standard blood test. An undetectable viral load generally means there are fewer than 40 viral copies per millilitre of blood.1
As long as you are able to stick to your treatment regimen and your viral load remains undetectable for 6 months after starting your treatments , then you cannot pass on HIV to others:
Undetectable = Untransmittable.1
HIV and the immune system
CD4 cells are white blood cells, which are an important part of your immune system as they help to fight infections.2
Normally, a CD4 cell count is around 500 to 1,500 cells per cubic millimetre of blood. Without treatment, HIV infects and destroys CD4 cells, depleting the amount a person has and weakening their immune system.2
- A CD4 counts > 500 cells indicates a fairly normal immune system and means the risk of opportunistic infections is low2
- A CD4 counts < 200 cells indicates a diagnosis of AIDS and means that there is a risk of developing serious opportunistic infections2
People with a high viral load are likely to have low CD4 counts.
Having a high viral load also increases the risk of passing HIV to others.1
Being undetectable is a great step in managing your HIV
Having an undetectable viral load level eliminates the risk of passing HIV onto others and minimises the risk of HIV-related infections and disease.1
Undetectable Viral Load Wtf Does That Mean
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This is probably the most often asked question I get while doing my community and outreach work with gay and MSM next to where can I get tested? It is a word that a number of gay men are using and hearing more often when speaking with potential sexual partners as it relates to their own level of HIV identified on their last viral load test. So WTF does it mean?
Lets start with a dictionary definition for undetectable:
Now undetectable as it relates to a person living with HIV means:When the number of copies of HIV cannot be detected by standard viral load tests, an HIV-positive person is said to have an undetectable viral load. For most tests used clinically today, this means fewer than 50 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood. There are more sensitive tests available that detect less than 20 copies per ml. However, the test used in Alberta as of January 7, 2013 is the Abbott RealTime HIV-1 Assay that detects virus up to less than 40 parts per ml.
What being undetectable means is that
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How Do I Talk To My Partner About Their Risk Of Acquiring Hiv
People living with HIV can involve their partners in their treatment plans. Research shows that adhering to treatment often can improve with support from loving relationships and from the community.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis , in which an HIV-negative person takes antiretroviral medication to prevent infection, can be part of the conversation. Learn more about PrEP.
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 Does Undetectable Viral Load Mean
Antiretroviral therapy is medication that helps to keep the viral load in the body under control. For many people, HIV treatment can substantially lower viral load levels, sometimes to undetectable levels.
A viral load is considered undetectable if a test cant quantify the HIV particles in 1 milliliter of the blood. If a viral load is considered undetectable, it means the medication is working.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , a person with an undetectable viral load has effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV. In 2016, the Prevention Access Campaign launched the U=U, or Undetectable = Untransmittable, campaign.
A word of caution: undetectable doesnt mean the virus particles arent there, or that a person no longer has HIV. It simply means that the viral load is so low that the test is unable to measure it.
HIV-positive people should consider continuing on antiretroviral medications to remain healthy and keep their viral loads undetectable.
Studiesshow that there may be temporary viral load spikes, sometimes called blips. These spikes can happen even in people whove had undetectable viral load levels for an extended period.
These increased viral loads may occur between tests, and there may be no symptoms.
Viral load levels in blood or genital fluids or secretions are often similar.
Testing Positive On Hiv Antibody Tests
Since the early days of the HIV epidemic, we have used antibody tests to test for HIV. Antibody tests are the most affordable and accessible HIV tests. They are the most common types of HIV tests at testing sites around the world because they provide rapid, on-the-spot results.
Antibody tests do not detect HIV. Instead, they detect antibodies that the immune system produces in response to HIV infection.
Want to know more about different types of HIV tests, how they work and how early they detect HIV? Check out thiseasy-to-read guide from Avert orread this Q& A by the CDC.
WHAT ARE ANTIBODIES?
Our immune systems develop antibodies in response to all kinds of pathogens. Anytime you get sick or get any kind of infection, your body builds up a defense system and creates antibodies to try and fight that specific infection off. If these antibodies are successful, some infections will go away but the antibodies never do. They will remain in your body, helping to protect you from getting the same infection in the future.
In this way, antibodies allow our bodies to remember a specific infectious agentlike a particular strain of the fluand then respond to it more quickly if exposed to it again in the future. Once we develop antibodies to a virus we may have those antibodies for life or for many years.
HIV ANTIBODIES WHEN YOURE UNDETECTABLE
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Here’s What It Means When Someone’s Hiv Is ‘undetectable’
Charlie Sheen and his doctor, Robert Huizenga, on the “Today” show with Matt Lauer.
Sheen’s doctor, Robert Huizenga, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at UCLA, accompanied him in the interview, saying that Sheen was treated immediately with strong antiviral drugs that have suppressed his “viral load” to “undetectable” levels.
But what does that mean?
When someone is infected with HIV, the virus hides out in their white blood cells and co-opts the cell’s machinery to multiply inside them. When the cell eventually dies, it releases hundreds of HIV virus particles into the blood stream, which then goes on to infect other white blood cells and create even more virus. This kills even more white blood cells and damages the infected patient’s ability to fight off other infections.
This impaired immune system due to HIV infection is a hallmark of AIDS, though Huizenga noted that Sheen does not have AIDS. AIDS status is determined by how many white blood cells are in a milliliter sample of the patient’s blood.
If a patient like Sheen doesn’t have AIDS, their HIV status is monitored by counting the number of viral particles in a patient’s blood – what doctors call the patient’s “viral load.”
When this number is high, more HIV particles are present in the body, which usually means that either the immune system or the drug therapy are not doing a good job of fighting the virus.
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.
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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.
If I Am Hiv Negative And My Hiv
In the age of U=U, prevention and safer sex now means an undetectable viral load, condoms, PrEP, or a combination of these, depending on your needs and feelings. If your partner is undetectable, they cannot transmit HIV through sex. However, your decisions about condoms should be based on your sexual behavior and your partner sexual behavior. Remember that U=U only protects against HIV transmission! Condoms are still the best way to prevent STIs and pregnancy. If you are HIV negative and have other partners, you should consider and condoms or emergency PEP . However, if you are in a monogamous relationship and your partner is undetectable, you could choose not to use any other forms of protection. It is very important to have an open and honest conversation with your sexual partner and your doctor about which prevention methods are right and most comfortable for you.
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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.
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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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.
What If I Am Undetectable And I Want To Breastfeed
At this time, U=U does not apply to HIV transmission during breastfeeding. While the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV is significantly reduced with the effective use of ART and an undetectable viral load, neither infant antiretroviral prophylaxis nor fully suppressive maternal ART eliminate the risk of HIV transmission through breastmilk. It is, therefore, recommended that women in the United States who are living with HIV refrain from breastfeeding and feeding their expressed breastmilk to their infants .
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Do I Still Need To Use Condoms If Im Undetectable
Some couples decide that they want to stop using condoms once they or their partner are undetectable. Its important to remember that although theres no HIV risk, being undetectable doesnt prevent you from getting or passing on other sexually transmitted infections or stop unwanted pregnancies, so you will have to use other measures to avoid these.
If you do stop using condoms, its important that both you and your partner are comfortable with the decision. It can help to talk it through with a healthcare worker first. Its recommended that you have a least two viral load tests confirming that youre undetectable before relying on this for HIV prevention. If your partner is HIV-negative they may consider using PrEP as an extra precaution.
In couples where both partners are living with HIV, its important that you are both undetectable before deciding not to use condoms. This is because if one partner has a different strain of HIV or has developed drug resistance this can be passed on if they have a detectable viral load.
How Variable Is An Undetectable Viral Load Can This Change Over Time
HIV specialists have decades of experience managing antiretroviral therapy and are confident that you can remain uninfectious as long as you:
- take your medication every day as prescribed, and
- have your viral load checked regularly.
The presence of other sexually transmitted infections can potentially affect viral load, but in the PARTNER study there were no HIV transmissions even when other STIs were present. Those results held through the PARTNER 2 trial as well.
It is however important to remember that HIV treatment can only be successful if you have access to it and are taking it as prescribed.
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What Is An Undetectable Viral Load
- Taking antiretroviral treatment reduces the amount of HIV in your body.
- With proper adherence, ART can reduce HIV to such low levels that the virus can no longer be detected in normal blood tests. This is called having an undetectable viral load.
- People with undetectable viral loads cant pass HIV on through sex.
- To know that youre undetectable, you must have your viral load monitored regularly.
- Remember your viral load can change. If you stop taking your treatment properly your viral load will go up again.
How Does Hiv Treatment And An Undetectable Viral Load Work To Prevent Hiv Transmission
HIV treatment, also called antiretroviral therapy , works by controlling the replication of HIV in the body that is, it reduces HIVs ability to make copies of itself. When HIV replication is controlled, the amount of virus in the blood and other bodily fluids decreases. Research tells us that as the amount of virus in the body decreases, so does the risk of HIV transmission. When successful treatment lowers the viral load to undetectable levels, this can reduce or even eliminate the risk of HIV transmission.
HIV treatment usually consists of a combination of three antiretroviral drugs taken daily. Newer HIV treatments are safer, simpler and more effective than when treatment was first introduced. The power of treatment today is so profound that many people who start effective treatment soon after becoming HIV positive will have a near-normal lifespan.
For most people the virus becomes so well controlled that within three to six months of starting treatment the amount of virus in their blood becomes undetectable by routinely used tests. Most viral load tests used in Canada cannot detect HIV in the blood if there are fewer than 40 to 50 copies/ml of the virus but some newer tests can detect as few as 20 copies/ml. The virus is still present in very low amounts in the body when the viral load is undetectable.
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