U = U!
Last updated: April 2023
U = U is good news for everyone!
Undetectable = Untransmittable! Simply stated, if your HIV viral load is undetectable (> 6 months and <20 copies/ml), you are untransmittable to your partner(s)!1 This is amazing news for everyone, since we are ALL connected.
In 2017, at the US Conference on AIDS, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, "confirmed” that the science validates U=U (undetectable = untransmittable).2
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I remember when this data was NOT known to the general public, patients, providers, and researchers! HIV positive and HIV negative individuals harbored fears and stigma around contracting or transmitting HIV to their partners.
Separating myths from facts
Many people feared the risks of unprotected sexual contact, needle sharing, breastfeeding, and childbirth which carry real HIV transmission risks.
Many people also spread myths about HIV risk and transmission, like getting HIV from mosquitos, sharing a toilet seat or kissing. Today, those fears and myths are no longer relevant!
U=U lowers HIV transmission risk
Condoms, PrEP, and U = U are all tools in today’s HIV prevention tool kit! We MUST continue to reduce our own individual and community level HIV risks in order for U = U to work!
Condoms are great for safer sex, HIV and STI risk reduction and prevention. PrEP and ART are highly effective and easily accessible through your doctor or pharmacy! Combined, these risk reduction tools drastically reduce our HIV risk and improves health outcomes for everyone.
HIV risk reduction methods are working
We are already seeing the impact of PrEP, U = U, increased HIV testing, HIV care, needle exchange and reduced perinatal infections in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is making progress in the prevention of HIV, which is consistent with national trends. Philadelphia saw a 14.3% decline in new diagnoses between 2017 and 2018, according to the city's public health department.
Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said, "We still have much work to do, particularly in preventing the spread of HIV among people who inject drugs, but ending the epidemic is now a realistic goal.”3
HIV & sexual health
If you are HIV positive
Please take care of your health! Attain and maintain U = U status, then you and your partners are safe and protected. Staying healthy is key since U = U is an active decision!
If you are HIV negative
Please take care of your health! Maintain your HIV negative status by getting tested regularly for HIV and STIs, having sex with condoms, get on PrEP, and know your partner’s status before having sex!2 Real talk! Staying healthy is key, remaining HIV negative is an active decision!
Serodiscordant (+/-) and seroconcordant (+/+) couples
For couples that are serodiscordant, where one partner is positive and one is negative, this confirms and affirms their love and commitment to protecting themselves and their partner!
For seroconcordant positive couples, with the same HIV status, this also adds safety to their love and sex in a committed relationship.
Staying safe and healthy
Overall, U = U is some of the best news for our communities and sexual health. U = U will help to reduce community HIV viral loads and encourage healthy safer sexual and romantic relationships. Staying safe and healthy is key!
Editor's note: Antiretroviral therapy helps in reducing an individual's viral load. The number of copies in the blood is so low, that a person is said to have an undetectable viral load. An undetectable viral load is usually under 40 copies/ml, but this depends on the test and region of the world.4
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