Undetectable = Untransmittable.

CDC Supports the Science

U equals U. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has taken note of what scientific research has confirmed over the last few years: when HIV-positive individuals take their medication and thus achieve undetectable levels of the virus, they are unlikely to spread HIV.

For quite some time, many experts and HIV organizations have been pushing the idea that undetectable equals untransmittable.

On the recent National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the CDC issued a statement. They noted, “Scientific advances have shown that antiretroviral therapy (ART) preserves the health of people living with HIV. We also have strong evidence of the prevention effectiveness of ART. When ART results in viral suppression, defined as less than 200 copies/ml or undetectable levels, it prevents sexual HIV transmission.”

What does all this mean?

First, understand the term “viral load” refers to the amount of HIV in the blood. An undetectable viral load is when the amount of HIV in the blood is so low that it can’t be measured, according to the CDC. Effective antiretroviral therapy reduces viral load, ideally to an undetectable level – when taken consistently and correctly.

Technically, people with an undetectable viral load still have HIV in their body. So there is still a very small chance they can transmit HIV through sex. Reasons for this range from medication adherence, medication interactions, other STDs, and other unforeseen factors.

Yet research is clearly proving HIV treatment works. The CDC notes, “Across three different studies, including thousands of couples and many thousand acts of sex without a condom or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), no HIV transmissions to an HIV-negative partner were observed when the HIV-positive person was virally suppressed.

The key is taking ART daily as prescribed. Unfortunately, many HIV-positive individuals are not getting the care and treatment they need.

Spreading knowledge about Treatment as Prevention (TasP) and research on undetectable viral loads is essential.

This is one of the reasons Palmetto Community Care works so hard to encourage people to get tested. To connect a person who tests positive to care immediately. We continue to commit to helping HIV-positive individuals in our community who are not in treatment . How? By getting them back into medical care and on a path to viral suppression. Our agency continues to promote the practice of safer sex, condom use and regular testing in our efforts to end the HIV epidemic.

U equals U

We believe Undetectable = Untransmittable. This is key to reducing HIV stigma in our community. This is why incentivizing HIV medication adherence matters. It provides for protection of sexual partners and transmission rate reduction. This is how we improve overall health outcomes right here in the Lowcountry.