Undetectable = Untransmittable
Pride Community Center fully endorses the ‘Undetectable Equals Untransmittable’ (U=U) Consensus Statement produced by the Prevention Access Campaign.
People living with HIV on ART with an undetectable viral load in their blood have a no risk of sexual transmission of HIV. Depending on the drugs employed it may take as long as six months for the viral load to become undetectable. Continued and reliable HIV suppression requires selection of appropriate agents and excellent adherence to treatment. HIV viral suppression should be monitored to assure both personal health and public health benefits.Prevention Access Campaign Consensus Statement
HIV rates in Texas have been shown to be static and on the rise in some areas year over year. In 2016, 205 of every 100,000 people in Brazos County, Texas and 440 of every 100,000 people in Grimes County, Texas were living with HIV. (AIDSVu.org)
Texas Health and Human Services data indicates that over half of the new Texas HIV infections in 2018 were in the Hispanic and Black populations and ages 15-34, which is consistent with the data that is seen in the Pride Community Center service area. (http://healthdata.dshs.texas.gov/)
People living with HIV are not getting the message of the benefit of treatment and sustained viral suppression from their clinical providers or the HIV education and advocacy community. Understanding that maintaining viral suppression through successful anti-retroviral therapy not only maintains health but also prevents transmission can encourage people living with HIV to initiate and adhere to treatment regimens and may help reduce HIV-related stigma. However, it is acknowledged that social and structural barriers exist that prevent some people living with HIV from achieving viral suppression.
In 2017, the CDC made this statement: “When antiretroviral treatment results in viral suppression, defined as less than 200 copies/ml or undetectable levels, it prevents sexual HIV transmission. Across three different studies, including thousands of couples and many thousand acts of sex without a condom or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), no HIV transmissions to an HIV-negative partner were observed when the HIV-positive person was virally suppressed. This means that 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.””
Simply said, having HIV suppressed to undetectable levels prevents transmission.
In support of U=U, Pride Community Center, Inc. has proclaimed the following pillars as a part of the previously established initiative for health promotion:
1. Consistently share the message that evidence demonstrates that a person living with HIV who has a sustained an undetectable viral load cannot sexually transmit HIV to another person.
2. Actively promote through community education and activism the removal of stigma related to HIV, which impacts HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. PCC will provide HIV information, services and modalities to reduce the risk of infection and to adopt safer behaviors so as not to raise suspicion about one’s HIV status.
3. Actively promote Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as another tool for HIV prevention, where HIV-negative individuals use anti-HIV medications to reduce their risk of becoming infected if they are exposed to the virus. Provide information for access to and financial assistance for PrEP.