Get the Facts
Those who are HIV-positive, follow their treatment plan, seeing their health care provider regularly, and maintain an undetectable viral load, will not pass HIV to your sexual partner.
Detectable versus Undetectable
A viral load is the amount of HIV virus in the blood of someone who is HIV positive. The goal of HIV treatment is to reduce viral load to very low or undetectable levels
An undetectable viral load means that the amount of HIV virus in the blood is so low, it cannot be measured.
Without treatment, the virus is measurable in a viral load test.
With consistent treatment, the virus is so low it can’t be measured in a viral load test.
It takes commitment, but most people are able to achieve an undetectable viral load in three to six months of consistent HIV treatment.
People who take ART daily as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (September, 2017)
Since 2011, several international studies—including HPTN 052 , PARTNER, and Opposites Attract —have continued to validate U=U.
Each study recruited couples in which one partner was living with HIV and the other was not. Between them, they recruited more than 3,000 couples. During the latter two studies, couples reported engaging in more than 74,000 episodes of condomless vaginal or anal intercourse. Among participants throughout these studies, not a single HIV transmission was observed from an HIV-positive partner who had a durable undetectable viral load to an HIV-negative partner.
Why This Matters
Not only will an undetectable viral load prevent your partners from being exposed to HIV, it will also protect your health. By controlling your HIV, you are less likely to develop serious illnesses and have less damage done to your body.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does undetectable = cured?
Having an undetectable viral load does not mean you no longer have HIV; there is no cure yet. The virus is still in your body. If you stop taking your HIV treatment or miss too many doses, your viral loads will increase and the virus will become detectable.
How do I know if I’m undetectable?
The only way to know if you are undetectable is to see your provider regularly for viral load tests. If your viral load test becomes detectable again, your risk of spreading HIV increases.
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