Not quite sure about U=U? Think you’re fully clued up about what the risks around sex with someone who is HIV positive? Do you know what undetectable means?
Drag star Courtney Act has participated in a simple and straightforward campaign video to explain Undetectable = Untransmissable (U=U). In short, people living with HIV who are successfully treated do not pass HIV on to their sexual partners.
‘We live in a fear-based world where HIV stigma can prevail’
Courtney made the video when she was recently in Auckland as part of her Under The Covers tour. In a statement, she explained why she supports the campaign, produced by local organization, Ending HIV New Zealand.
‘An ex-boyfriend of mine is living with HIV. He has an undetectable viral load so I know first-hand how this can affect people in a serodiscordant couple – which is where one partner is HIV-negative and one is HIV-positive.
‘It was great to know he could have much better health in the long-run and that scientific evidence shows he was unable to pass on HIV on to me, even without condoms.
‘We live in a fear-based world where HIV stigma can prevail, but armed with science and facts I was able to break down the stigma in my own mind and be in a happy and healthy relationship with my partner.
‘For people living with HIV, the knowledge that undetectable equals untransmittable is huge news, not only as a means of preventing transmission, but in breaking down the stigma that many people still experience.’
Undetectable = Untransmissable
Hundreds of health organizations worldwide now support the Undetectable = Untransmissable message. This includes the CDC in the US and the Terrence Higgins Trust in the UK.
A HIV positive person is undetectable when the levels of HIV in their body cannot be detected by standard viral load tests. Modern medication regimes are highly effective at reducing HIV levels to undetectable levels. This is particularly true if someone is diagnosed soon after infection.
It’s one of the reasons medical experts recommend gay men have a HIV test at least annually. Or 3-4 times a year if you have lots of partners.
Wearing a condom is still recommended as it can help protect against a variety of other sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea and syphillis.
If in any doubt, chat to a sexual health advisor at your local clinic. And get yourself tested!