#UequalsU & HIV – Explainer

Undetectable = Untransmittable

Did you know that people living with HIV who have been taking their medication for at least six months and have an undetectable viral load can’t spread the virus sexually? If you didn’t, don’t feel bad — that’s why we’re here.

#UequalsU or U=U is a global campaign led by the Prevention Access Campaign to spread awareness about the fact that a personal with an undetectable viral load can’t transmit HIV to their sexual partners. B

Below you’ll find more info on what “undetectable” and “untransmittable” mean, as well as everything you need to know about the #UequalsU campaign.

WHAT DOES UNDETECTABLE MEAN?

The first “U” in #UequalsU is for “Undetectable.” That’s because people who have consistently taken their antiretroviral treatment (ART)for HIV have an undetectable viral load. Viral load is how much of a virus is present in a person’s bloodstream.

We know that’s kind of technical. If you want to learn more about undetectable viral loads, check out this great FAQ from Prevention.org.

WHAT DOES UNTRANSMITTABLE MEAN?

The second “U” in #UequalsU is for “Untransmittable.” When someone is on ART and has had an undetectable viral load for six months, they can’t spread the HIV virus sexually. Therefore, even though they carry the virus, it’s untransmittable.

WHY IS U=U SO IMPORTANT?

These days, people living with HIV can live long, healthy lives. And if their viral load is undetectable, they can have sex with their partner(s) without worrying about transmitting the virus. That’s great! But, unfortunately, a lot of people still don’t know that and therefore believe a lot of harmful myths about HIV.

#UequalsU is important because it shatters those long-standing myths and misconceptions about HIV and people living with HIV. The goal of the campaign is to spread information about awareness about how HIV is transmitted — and how it isn’t — and to ultimately break down some of the stigma that people living with HIV face every day.

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SCIENCE BEHIND U=U?

#UequalsU is based off of a number of studies, including ARTNER, HPTN 052, Opposites Attract, and the Swiss Statement. You can read more about the studies on the campaign’s FAQ page.

WHAT KIND OF MEDICATION IS THERE FOR HIV?

Medication for HIV is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). While they don’t kill HIV, they do prevent its growth. People living with HIV who take their ART consistently and correctly go on to lead long, healthy lives.

IF SOMEONE HAS A UNDETECTABLE VIRAL LOAD, CAN THEY STOP USING CONDOMS?

Well yes, if you have an undetectable viral load, you can have sex without a condom and you won’t transmit HIV — but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop using condoms. Having an undetectable viral load doesn’t mean you’re protected from getting other STDs. If you want to protect yourself from other STDs, you should still use condoms.

HOW DO I SHARE THE U=U MESSAGE?

Excited about this info? Share it around! Post about it on social media with the hashtag #UequalsU. Or talk about it at your next dinner party. Bring it up at brunch. Every conversation helps spread the word.