Five years ago I was diagnosed with Advanced HIV. I was suffering from endless respiratory infection and cytomegalovirus retinitis, which left my retina detached and my right eye blind. I had asymptomatic syphilis, and systemic thrush. My teeth were wearing out and my body was wearing away.
I soon found myself on the Ryan White program and on my States ADAP program, which provided me access to AIDS drugs. I was prescribed Stribild and other medications to suppress and clear the infections and the viruses.
In six months I went from a viral load of over 100,000 copies per ML to UNDETECTABLE. Me and my Doctor celebrated the news in the office. Like fools we were shouting and carrying on, the nurses had to check on us. It was insane!
Being UNDETECTABLE means there is not enough of the virus left in the blood stream to actually measure by the blood testing that is normally done. This is the likely outcome of effective antiretroviral therapy, and means the medicine is successfully working to suppress the virus.
When I became undetectable medical science was debating just what the idea of “UNDETECTABLE” really meant for the patient. Would this mean that there would be so little of the virus in the body as to prevent the infection of another person? What does this mean for long term survival and long term care? Will this finally be the stigma busting tool we need?
I believe, YES this information is the best stigma busting information that we could have hoped for!
The CDC now recognizes that having a sustained UNDETECTABLE viral load lowers the risk of transmission to ZERO.
“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.” – CDC.gov September 2017.
This means that, not if but when you get into effective ARV treatment, and you are compliant to the protocols, you will get to an UNDETECTABLE state, and then be unable to transmit the virus. There is zero risk of transmission, and no other science exists that refutes this fact.
I can now have sex, eventually with an informed partner, and have sex without the painful allergic reaction I have to latex. My partner can rest assured that as long as I maintain an UNDETECTABLE viral load they are in no danger. I feel so free with this fact.
I can be a health care worker and I cannot pass this virus to any one of my patents, residents, or clients. I am as safe as any other health care worker and as long as I maintain my health I will always be.
I invite you to visit the “U=U” movement’s web site at: www.preventionaccess.org
While you are there please look at the downloadable online resources available at: www.preventionaccess.org/resources
https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/art/index.html : Is the CDC official statement regarding viral suppression and effective ARV treatment, assessing zero risk of transmission
EDUCATE YOURSELF. You have rights, and when you don’t fully understand them, that’s when your beliefs can be twisted to support the stigma and fear of this condition.
“All people living with HIV have a right to accurate and meaningful information about their social, sexual, and reproductive health.” Prevention Access Online
If you have any more questions, or would like to discuss this topic more, please comment, follow, and like. I want you to be informed, and educated. Stigma can be defeated by accurate and informed data. We can end this once and for all!
In love unconditionally,
Your Friend David