Border Free Health

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Undetectable = Untransmittable. Is Undetectable Equals Untransmittable?

Undetectable = Untransmittable, also known simply as U=U, is a campaign that focuses on stopping HIV transmission and eventually eradicate it completely. This campaign is based on the findings from multiple HIV researches. It advocates that constant use of medication can reduce the viral load to the point that it will no longer be transmittable. It endorses its mission in three folds –

  1. The use of medication as a means to reduce the viral load in the body
  2. Boosting the morals of more than 38.4 million people living with the disease, by focusing on the fact that they can lead a normal life with the help of the new medical developments.
  3. finally ending the stigma by empowering and educating people about HIV prevention and cure.

the campaign resolves around the fact that when a person is living with HIV and is on effective medication, the level of their viral load in the blood decreases slowly, and finally it can reach an “Undetectable” number. An undetectable viral load occurs when the levels of the virus reduces to less than 200 copies/ml of blood tested. Medically, this stage is called virally suppressed, where HIV cannot be transmitted sexually. This highly achievable stage is the crux of the U=U campaign.

Is Undetectable Equals Untransmittable?

Yes. If you have an undetectable viral load, it just means that you cannot pass the virus to other individuals. This has been proven by scientific evidences collected from numerous researches conducted globally. As a matter of fact, this also means that you have successfully managed to suppress the virus.

However, constant monitoring and medication is key to keeping to viral load under 200 copies/ml of blood. Doctors may prescribe a prolonged medication schedule to achieve this goal.

When Was Undetectable Equals Untransmittable Announced?

The Prevention Access Campaign used the Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) tagline to highlight this breakthrough in HIV research in early 2016 after 20 years of research. The campaign had gained popularity, with over 400 organizations from 60 different nations pledging their support for U=U.

This scientific data came from a number of researches. Thousands of heterosexual and gay couples were included in the study, with one partner being positive with the virus and the other not. Interestingly, they discovered that there was not a single case of HIV transmission from an HIV-positive partner to a HIV negative partner when the viral load was less than 200. Hence, the conclusion undetectable = untransmittable was established.

It was life-changing for many individuals with HIV to finally live with an assurance that they can no longer transmit HIV through sex. Many people who were now virally suppressed found new hope, freed themselves from social stigma, and started enjoying their relationships like before.

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