The Truth About Transmission

The Truth About Transmission

If the amount of HIV in one’s blood is very low, then HIV can’t be transmitted through sex.

This concept has been popularized as “Undetectable=Untransmittable” or “U=U.”

When is HIV considered “undetectable”? 

When there are less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter in your blood. 

How do you reach that very low level of HIV?

By having access to healthcare and taking your HIV medication as prescribed. 

How do we know U=U is for real?

Because it’s backed by science. Researchers studied thousands of couples where one partner had HIV and the other did not. No one whose HIV was undetectable gave HIV to their partner.

Is U=U the same thing as Treatment as Prevention (TasP)?

Yes. U=U, a method of prevention, is the result of HIV treatment. Also, if you’re HIV-negative, consider talking to your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication that can keep you from getting HIV. 

Since U=U, do I still need to take precautions when having sex?

Neither U=U (taking meds for your HIV) nor PrEP (taking meds to prevent getting HIV) will prevent pregnancy or other STDs. Condoms remain your best option for avoiding other STDs as well as—along with options like birth control—avoiding pregnancy. Most important, you need to be in care for all your sexual and reproductive health needs whether you have HIV or not. Don’t know where to get affordable or free care? Call your local health department—or call the Black AIDS Institute! 

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