In the most simplest terms, U=U means someone living with HIV who is on effective treatment cannot transmit HIV. If their viral load is determined to be undetectable, then the virus is untransmittable through sexual activities.
The evidence is clear that if a person who is on antiretroviral therapy and has sustained their undetectable viral load for at least six months, then they cannot transmit the virus.
Positive Women Victoria — and many of our community partners — are now working to change public opinion on HIV transmissions and challenge the stigma around people living with HIV continue to face.
Read more about Living Well with HIV (booklet produced by NAPWHA and AFAO).
History of U=U
In 2001, study results showed that the risk of transmitting HIV is dramatically reduced if a person living with HIV is on effective treatment.
In 2016, updated findings state there were zero cases of transmission between heterosexual couples having condomless sex, when the person living with HIV was undetectable.
In 2018, the studies reported condomless sexual acts (vaginal and/or anal) among 77,000 participants and found that there we zero transmissions of HIV.
Women living with HIV have the right to self-determination and power of their own bodies.
U=U means that women who are undetectable can explore sexual practices and relationships they want — whether masturbation, oral, vaginal or anal — with confidence.
Whether or not to you choose to use male or female condoms, contraception is always a good idea as these lower the risk of STIs and pregnancy. Visit our Sex, Love + Travel section to learn more about STIs.
Remember to talk to your sexual partner first about what works for both of you. It can be challenging to talk about HIV and negotiating safe sex with your partner, so feel free to talk to one of our Peer Support team for advice.
Positive Women Victoria believes there is no reason why women living with HIV should not be able to discuss breastfeeding your baby with your doctor, and make an informed decision as to whether this is the right choice for you.
Research has found that the rate of transmission of HIV through breastfeeding — for women who are on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and have stable undetectable viral loads — is extremely low.
Remember, many women — for a variety of reasons — cannot breastfeed. So you do not have to tell any one that you are HIV positive to justify not breastfeeding.
Many women with HIV now experience pregnancy and have children who do not have HIV.
Being pregnant will not affect your viral load. Your CD4 count may drop, however, this drop is usually temporary.
The use of antiretroviral drugs is highly recommended for all HIV-positive pregnant women, regardless of viral load.
Viral load is the single most important factor determining a baby’s risk of HIV infection. Having a low viral load will also improve the mother’s immune status throughout her pregnancy.