Undetectable Equals Untransmittable
What does U=U mean?
U=U stands for Undetectable = Untransmittable. This means that if an HIV-positive person’s viral load (the amount of virus in the blood) is undetectable, it is impossible to transmit HIV to sexual partners.
How do I get to undetectable?
Anti-retroviral therapy can decrease the amount of HIV in the blood to be too low to measure. When the load cannot be measured, you are undetectable. This is usually at fewer than 50 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood (<50 copies/mL). When your viral load is under 200 copies, the chance of transmitting HIV sexually does not exist.
How long does it take to become undetectable?
It may take 1 to 6 months to become undetectable. Once you are undetectable, it can take another 6 months to maintain an undetectable status. After the 6 months of maintenance, there is no risk of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner.
It is extremely important that you take your medication as prescribed and do not fall out of your treatment schedule, as this could cause the virus levels in your blood to rebound and become detectable and transmittable.
What about intravenous drug use?
U=U does NOT prevent transmission when sharing needles. U=U has only been found to be effective in stopping sexual transmission.
Find out more:
Minnesota Department of Health:
U=U Information: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/hiv/prevention/uu/index.html
Simple and concise information about U=U from the Minnesota Department of Health.
New York City Health Department:
The New York City Health Department page about U=U includes frequently asked questions.
Prevention Access Campaign: https://www.preventionaccess.org/
The Prevention Access Campaign started the international U=U campaign. View the consensus statement, frequently asked questions, list of community partners and more.
National Health Institute:
10 Things to Know about HIV Suppression: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/news-events/10-things-know-about-hiv-suppression
Resource to learn more about HIV suppression and being undetectable, with a video of how it works.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
HIV Treatment as Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/art/index.html
Effectiveness of Prevention Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Acquiring or Transmitting HIV: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/estimates/preventionstrategies.html
Taking ART daily as prescribed and achieving and maintaining viral suppression is 100 percent effective in preventing HIV transmission to sexual partners.