We have added our support to Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U), an international campaign highlighting the impact of effective HIV treatment on transmission.

The campaign sends a clear message that a person living with HIV, on treatment and with undetectable levels of the virus in their blood for at least six months has virtually zero risk of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner.

HIV is a long-term condition that can be managed well with treatment (known as antiretroviral therapy or ART). This treatment works by preventing the virus from multiplying and by actually reducing the levels of HIV in the blood (viral load). While treatment cannot cure HIV, it can reduce the viral load to the point where it cannot be detected in tests (undetectable).

Various studies have looked at the risk of HIV transmission associated with an undetectable viral load. For example, the PARTNER study looked at 58,000 cases where an HIV positive individual with an undetectable viral load had sex with a partner without using condoms and found no cases of HIV transmission. While the scientific community cannot say that there is absolutely zero risk of transmission, there is a consensus that individuals on treatment with an undetectable viral load for at least six months are considered not infectious.

The fact that treatment can allow people with HIV to live a long, healthy life, and that it can help to prevent new cases of the condition, underlines the importance of individuals knowing their HIV status through testing. Through our work, we are encouraging people to get tested and providing information, advice and support to those who need it.

The full U=U Consensus Statement, to which we have now added our support, is below:

People living with HIV on ART with an undetectable viral load in their blood have a negligible 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.

You can find out more about the campaign from its website here.