When a person living with HIV takes antiretroviral drugs as prescribed, and achieves and maintains an undetectable viral load, that person cannot sexually transmit the virus to an HIV-negative partner.
That’s a lot of information. Let’s talk it out:
With medication, HIV has become a treatable condition in which the virus can be suppressed. This means an individual living with HIV can live a long and healthy life. This also means people who are HIV-positive can have partners and start families with people who are HIV-negative without passing on the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when a person has an undetectable viral load in their body, they cannot transmit the virus sexually.
U=U is a way to unpack the stigma associated with an HIV diagnosis, and ensure people of all statuses can feel confident it will not be passed when a person is undetectable.
We need to retrain people over and over again until we undo the ways we have talked about sexual health for so long and adopt the new, positive language that is the real and accurate way to depict HIV.
The U=U movement is an opportunity to do the following things:
- Improve the lives of people living with HIV by reducing the shame and fear of sexual transmission and opening up possibilities for conceiving children without alternative means of insemination
- Dismantle HIV stigma at the community, clinical and personal levels
- Encourage people living with HIV to start and stay on treatment, which keeps them healthy
- Strengthen advocacy efforts for universal access to treatment, care and diagnostics to save lives and bring us closer to ending the epidemic
Evergreen uses a harm reduction model. But what we practice and provide at Evergreen is not the norm in other cultures, regions or parts of the world.
And though the strides the medical community has made in terms of HIV treatment and prevention in the last few years has been groundbreaking, the challenge is to dismantle 30 years of stigma.
Therefore, it is vital that Evergreen continue to educate and advocate for this new way of thinking that people living with HIV deserve.
Evergreen Health is an Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U) Community Partner.
The Prevention Access Campaign’s U=U movement is a health equity initiative committed to using science to explain that people living with HIV who are on effective treatment do not sexually transmit HIV. It was launched in 2016 by a group of people living with HIV who wanted to educate the public using scientific evidence as a way to change the way we think about HIV and end stigma. The movement is now made up of a global community of HIV advocates, activists, researchers and more than 550 community partners.
To learn more about Evergreen Health and the services we offer to prevent and treat HIV, visit www.evergreenhs.org.