I am a person living with HIV (PLWH). Should I start treatment?
Yes. HIV medication, known as ART (antiretroviral treatment), should be taken as soon as possible after your diagnosis. It strengthens your immune system and can prevent the sexual transmission of the virus, which is known as Treatment as Prevention (TasP).
What is U=U?
It stands for Undetectable equals Untransmittable. If you’re a PLWH who takes HIV medication as recommended, you can get to an undetectable state, where the virus is so low that a blood test will not detect it. It is a scientifically proven fact that with undetectable HIV, there is ZERO risk of transmitting the virus through sex.
Can U=U prevent the spread of HIV through breastfeeding or intravenous drug use?
No, HIV treatment is only 100% effective at preventing HIV through sexual activity.
Does U=U apply to all types of sex?
Yes, PLWH with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV through sex – including insertive or receptive anal sex, vaginal sex, and oral sex.
How long does it take for my viral load (i.e. the amount of HIV in my blood) to become undetectable?
For most PLWH, their viral load becomes undetectable after 3 to 6 months of treatment. Your HIV is considered undetectable when all viral load test results are undetectable for at least six months after your first undetectable test result. Your viral load can only be determined by a lab test.
Can HIV medication benefit anyone living with HIV?
Some people are drug resistant, but thankfully, there are many types of HIV medication that can help you become undetectable. Your health care provider will help you come up with a treatment plan that works for you.
What happens if I forget to take my HIV meds?
When you don’t take your meds regularly, your viral load increases. This jeopardizes your health and heightens the risk of transmitting the virus through sex. That’s why adherence to HIV treatment is so important.
How often do I need to have my viral load checked?
U=U requires regular testing to make sure your HIV is still undetectable. Quarterly medical visits are recommended for viral load testing as well as STI testing – especially if your partner and you have other sexual partners.
How is U=U helping to reduce HIV stigma and discrimination?
U=U has helped many PLWH and their lovers, friends, and family better understand that with effective HIV treatment, it is possible to enjoy long and healthy lives without the fear of passing on the virus to others. PLWH feel more encouraged to start and stay in treatment, and to cultivate more active sexual and social lives. Similarly, HIV negative feel less afraid or anxious about engaging sexually or socially with PLWH.
If my HIV is undetectable and my partner is HIV negative, is it still necessary to use condoms?
A combination of PrEP and condoms will provide maximum protection. While PrEP protects HIV negative people from getting the virus, using condoms is recommended to prevent STIs (sexually transmitted infections) like gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia. Always discuss your preferred means of protection with your partner.