In September 2017, the Center for Disease Control released this statement:
“People who take ART daily as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.”
ART, otherwise known as antiretroviral therapy, is used to maintain the health of people living with HIV. When ART results in viral suppression, it prevents sexual HIV transmission. The CDC reported findings on three different studies over time including thousands of couples and sexually active people that did not use protection or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). No HIV transmissions were observed when the HIV-positive person was virally suppressed.
During this time, the U=U campaign was born (Undetectable=Untransmittable). The campaign, aimed to dispel the stigma surrounding HIV, was created by Bruce Richman of the Prevention Access Campaign (PAC) and people living with HIV collaborating with leading researchers on HIV sexual transmission.
One of those leading researchers who helped back Richman’s message was Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director, NIAID, National Institutes of Health. In September 2017, Fauci spoke during the U.S. Conference on AIDS where he stated: “The science really does validate and verify Undetectable = Untransmittable.”
What this means is that U=U offers freedom and hope by:
- Reducing the shame and fear of sexual transmission
- Dismantles HIV stigma on the personal, clinical, and community level
- Encourages people living with HIV to start and stay on treatment to keep them and their partners healthy
- Strengthens advocacy for universal access to treatment, care, and diagnostics.
U=U Campaign Overview. (2017, December).
Retrieved from www.preventionaccess.org/resources
This campaign is an opportunity to transform the perceptions of all parties involved.
The U=U movement is uniting with community partners such as The Philadelphia Center in Shreveport to educate and dismantle the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. With modern medicine, a positive HIV diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. People living with HIV are living longer, healthier lives without having to take 20 pills a day.
Prevention is the best medicine and knowing your status is the key to curtailing this epidemic.
The Philadelphia Center offers free HIV testing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. If you are living with HIV and need supportive services, please call The Philadelphia Center at 318.222.6633 for more information.