U=U is an international campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of ARVs and to educate people about how effective they are at treating HIV. U=U is an abbreviation for “Undetectable = Untransmittable”.

U=U means that a person living with HIV who sticks to their HIV treatment can reach a point where they can no longer transmit the virus.

Here’s how it works: With any virus, the likelihood of transmitting it depends on the amount of virus in your body (called “viral load”). HIV drugs called antiretrovirals (ARVs) prevent the virus from reproducing (making copies of itself).

An HIV-positive person who goes on and stays on ARV treatment can suppress the HIV in their body. If the HIV is not able to reproduce, it cannot infect new cells in your body and your viral load remains low. With a low viral load, you are more likely to have a healthy immune system. And the lower your viral load, the less likely you are to transmit HIV to others.

A person living with HIV is considered to have an ‘undetectable’ viral load when ARV treatment has brought the amount of virus in their body to such low levels that blood tests cannot detect it. Only by going on and staying on ARVs can you achieve an HIV undetectable status.

Scientists have proven that someone who is HIV-positive and whose viral load is ‘undetectable’ cannot transmit the virus during sex to their partners, even without using condoms. The chances of someone who is HIV-positive and undetectable passing HIV onto someone else is 0%.

Remember that ARVs cannot cure HIV. Even when your viral load is undetectable, there are still ‘resting’ or latent HIV cells in areas of your body, called ‘reservoirs.’ That means that when you stop taking ARVs, the virus will start reproducing again.

An HIV-positive person needs to stay on ARVs for life, but they can manage the condition effectively and can live as long as someone who is HIV-negative.

To become undetectable, you must use ARVs consistently and have your viral load checked and confirmed regularly by a health care provider, such as Engage Men’s Health.

To find out more, to get onto, or to get back onto ARVs, WhatsApp call or message us on 082 607 1686. No judgement, no stigma!