A long-term study published by the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases has reached an absolute conclusion: HIV+ cannot transmit the virus when carrying an undetectable viral load. The US agency joins 300 health agencies worldwide in supporting the conclusion.
The study, co-authored by Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the world’s foremost experts on HIV, looked at data from 77,000 instances of condomless sex between serodiscordant (that is, a couple where one has HIV and the other does not), male same-sex couples. The study found not one instance of HIV transmission among them.
“In summary,” the study declares, “even though the clinical data underpinning the concept of U = U have been accumulating for well over a decade, it is only recently that an overwhelming body of evidence has emerged to provide the firm basis to now accept this concept as scientifically sound.”
The report also notes several important caveats for the findings to hold true. Patients with HIV must adhere to their prescribed regimen of medication, and it can take up to six months once HIV is detected in the blood for viral levels to drop to undetectable levels. Furthermore, a patient with HIV needs to undergo viral load testing every 3-4 months to make sure their HIV level remains undetectable.
Twitter lit up at the announcement with various HIV charity and awareness accounts, as well as accounts maintained by activists, rejoicing at the news. We join them to share that sentiment.
#UequalsU means that people living with #HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load–the amount of HIV in the blood–by taking and adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others. https://t.co/belYaqNOVf
— POZ Alaska (@PozAlaska) January 11, 2019
?Since August ’16, the pioneers at @NIAIDNews @NIH have been invaluable allies to those of us in the #UequalsU movement. Again, they’ve come through on a monumental scale. Today, @JAMA_current released this article by Drs. Fauci, Dieffenbach, Eisinger https://t.co/3XYUBckfdQ pic.twitter.com/t2zvA4I9gC
— Bruce Richman (@BR999) January 10, 2019
NEWS: The science is clear: With #HIV, #undetectable equals #untransmittable. #NIAID experts discuss the scientific evidence & principles underlying #UEqualsU in @JAMA_current. https://t.co/HvjKtngv4A pic.twitter.com/RfA0tn0Ann
— NIAID News (@NIAIDNews) January 10, 2019