We Want You to Know… Taking HIV medication daily as directed is essential to achieving and maintaining an undetectable viral load, which benefits health and prevents sexual transmission of the virus to an HIV-negative partner.

For nearly two decades, scientists have recognized that the viral load is a key determinant of HIV transmission. In other words, people living with HIV cannot pass HIV through sex when they have undetectable levels of HIV. This vital prevention method is estimated to be 100% effective as long as the person living with HIV takes their medication as prescribed and gets and stays undetectable. This concept known as Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U).

‘Undetectable = Untransmittable’ (U=U) became an important campaign explaining how the sexual transmission of HIV can be stopped. When a person is living with HIV and is on effective treatment, it lowers the level of HIV (the viral load) in the blood. When the levels are extremely low (below 200 copies/ml of blood measured) it is referred to as an undetectable viral load. This is also medically known as virally suppressed. At this stage, HIV cannot be passed on sexually. In fact, when a person is undetectable, condoms are not required to prevent HIV transmission.

What is most important to know is U=U applies to transmission through sex only. The risks of transmission through other routes, including breastfeeding and sharing needles does not prevent transmission of the HIV virus via the U=U prevention strategy.