We are the Undetectable Generation
March 14, 2018
What is the U=U movement and what does it mean for PLWHIV?
U=U stands for “Undetectable equals Untransmittable”. This is the acknowledgement that it is now a scientific fact that a person who has a sustained undetectable viral load has “negligible” risk of transmitting the virus. This risk level is so low that it is defined as ZERO risk. This represents a life time of research and the support of over 71 nations and over 580 individual organizations worldwide.
“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)
The stigma that surrounds PLWHIV is a serious barrier to continued care, and proper education on the true risks and benefits the medical care they receive. PLWHIV or any other group of individuals who are affected by a medical condition should always be afforded the best available science to support the best possible treatment.
It is widely accepted that with effective ARV treatment, in about 6 months the virus level will reach an “undetectable” level. This level is subject to the kind of tests that are called for. Most tests are sensitive enough to read over 40 copies per ML of blood. An Undetectable viral load is the goal and the desired outcome of effective ARV treatment.
We also are aware that transmitting HIV is not easy. There are only a few ways to transmit it and we also know and accept that having a suppressed viral load can reduce the risk. This particular issue of transmission by virally suppressed individuals has been going for thousands of people years of follow up. And the science is very promising.
“Three large multinational research studies involving couples in which one partner was living with HIV and the other was not—HPTN 052, PARTNER and Opposites Attract—observed no HIV transmission to the HIV-negative partner while the partner with HIV had a durably undetectable viral load. These studies followed approximately 3,000 male-female and male-male couples over many years while they did not use condoms. Over the course of the PARTNER and Opposites Attract studies, couples reported engaging in more than 74,000 condom less episodes of vaginal or anal intercourse.” (NIH September 2017)
The facts are, literally that we have never seen a transmission from a person who is virally suppressed. This is big news and wonderful news that can change lives. The facts are clear; you can’t transmit the virus if your viral load is undetectable for a sustained period of time, six or more months.
Everyone deserves to receive proper education and effective treatment. ARV treatment should be offered immediately and proper testing must be done to confirm the medications efficiency. This is a patient right and it is finally time to say it. You can love the way you want to now, as long as you stay in treatment and maintain your health.
About U=U @ http://www.preventionaccess.org
“All people living with HIV have a right to accurate and meaningful information about their social, sexual, and reproductive health.”
“U=U was launched in early 2016 by a group of people living with HIV who created a groundbreaking Consensus Statement with global experts to clear up confusion about the science of U=U. That Statement was the genesis of the U=U movement that is changing the definition of what it means to live with HIV. The movement is sharing the message to dismantle HIV stigma, improve the lives of people living with HIV, and bring us closer to ending the epidemic.” PreventionAccess.org/About
Official Consensus Statement
Officially accepted in 71 countries by over 580 organizations
People living with HIV on ART with an undetectable viral load in their blood have a negligible risk of sexual transmission of HIV. Depending on the drugs employed it may take as long as six months for the viral load to become undetectable. Continued and reliable HIV suppression requires selection of appropriate agents and excellent adherence to treatment. HIV viral suppression should be monitored to assure both personal health and public health benefits.
The term “negligible” is the place where most people get confused. There is no such thing as a scientific absolute zero. No one is saying that the risk isn’t there, it’s just as low as to be defined as zero. There have been so few incidents of transmission that it is considered nearly impossible. In fact most studies never recorded one transmission in thousands of sex acts.
Now is the time to break the stigma of living with HIV. We have the medicine, we have the message, and we need to update our understanding. Regulations and laws criminalizing HIV need to be changed. You have the right to be aware of your sexual health, and a right to a healthy sex life. Take control and know you are part of the fight to end HIV. Let’s start with this stigma filled topic.
I urge you to educate yourself and to urge your organizations and clinicians to accept and sign onto the “Consensus Statement” at once.
Science not Stigma. Facts not Fear.
We are the Undetectable Generation, let us build and support the HIV Free generations to come.