UequalsU Means A Lot
It has been about 2 years since I wrote about U=U. If you do not know what that it is, U=U stands for undetectable equals untransmittable.
When a person is on medication (ARVs) and is virally suppressed and undetectable, they can not sexually transmit HIV to their partner if they stay in care and maintain viral suppression (undetectable).1
The reach of the U=U message
It has been 5 years and the U=U message that Prevention Access Campaign launched in 2016 now has 1052 partners in over 100 countries.
Prevention Access Campaign did not patent U=U because it belongs to everyone and can be used freely as people choose to so they can make U=U look like their community. Many advocates, organizations, and people in the HIV field have done an amazing job of getting the message of U=U out there to reach everyone who is affected by HIV and can continue to do so in any way that they can.
Inspiring people living with HIV
U=U is motivating, uplifting, and inspiring people who are living with HIV and is making so many feel whole again. If I knew about this when I was given my diagnosis 24 years ago, I know it would have changed how I was feeling about who I was back then.
I would not have gone through so much, emotionally and mentally - as well as the internalized stigma that I felt. I would not have become an alcoholic. I would not have left my daughter with my sister in fear that I would transmit HIV to her.
I would not have gotten into a marriage that made me feel less than or took the abuse because I only wanted to be loved. I would not have put my life on hold because I was afraid that I would be gone.
Therefore, all of us who believe in this liberating message speak up so bold and loudly. We want the world to know that we can not transmit HIV to our partners and that we are not "infectious", as others put it.
Journey to 400k
What about the people who are not virally suppressed? Currently, there are 400,000 people who are not and, because of this, the Prevention Access Campaign has created a new initiative called Jto400k.2
We know there are barriers that people face, and it can be hard because they are not engaged in care for one reason or another. One simply could not have access to care - there are systemic issues like anti-Blackness and racism, homophobia, transphobia, and HIV stigma which also play a big part. Then, there are people who have not been diagnosed yet.
U=U is changing the narrative about HIV
Someone who is undetectable is no better than someone who is not - we must put people with HIV first by prioritizing the needs of people who are living with HIV.
How can we get to ending the transmissions of HIV if we do not make sure that there is increased access to care, more resources, decreased barriers, more testing, and make sure people who are out of care get back into care?
U=U is changing the narrative about HIV, and everyone should be talking about it every chance they get!
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