U=U: Undetectable = Untransmittable

Did you know that having an undetectable viral load when you are taking HIV treatment (ART) also stops HIV transmission?

For at least 20 years we have known that ART reduces HIV transmission. But for the last few years, leading scientists agree that the risk is not just reduced – it is stopped completely.

ART is not only good for your health but it protects your partners.

This means that you don’t need to use condoms if you were only using them to stop HIV.

The protection from ART depends on:

  • Taking ART every day.
  • Having undetectable viral load for at least three months (some guidelines say six months).
  • Continuing to take meds without missing doses.

The evidence for U=U comes from studies with both gay and straight couples, and for all types of sex. See links below for details.

Support in UK guidelines

Leading UK doctors and researchers strongly support the U=U statement.

“There should be no doubt that a person with sustained, undetectable levels of HIV in their blood cannot transmit HIV to their sexual partners.”

– Professor Chloe Orkin, Chair, British HIV Association (BHIVA)

UK guidelines state that HIV doctors should talk to all people living with HIV about how ART stops transmission.

This should be part of routine HIV care.

More information

Qs & As on U=U
Questions and answers about U=U.

The evidence for U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable): why negligible risk is zero risk
This article reviews key studies over the last twenty years that are the evidence for U=U.

U=U international campaign
U=U is also part of an international campaign to raise awareness about this aspect of HIV treatment (ART). By January 2021, more that 1000 organisations have joined from 102 countries.

The pictures below show some of the ways that U=U is being publicised.

Poster used in UK clinics, produced by i-Base for the Kobler Clinic.

U=U leading a PRIDE march with HIV Scotland.

Public health campaign by HIV Healthy in NYC.

Community gardening project by Virginia Cucchi.

Public health poster from the French organisation AIDES.

Clear message from ACT-UP Dublin.