Updated February 2021
Undetectable = Untransmittable
Fact: A person living with HIV who is on treatment and has an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV through sex.
In other words, Undetectable = Untransmittable, or U=U
Celebrate Love U=U
Moses Supercharger with
the Stigmaless Band
Click on the photos to scroll through examples of Community Partner U=U campaigns.
A customizable social marketing campaign to educate about U=U and encourage engagement in care.
Q: What would you say to HIV information providers who are withholding this [U=U] information from people with HIV?
A: "It is very, very clear that the risk is zero. If you are on suppressive ART you are sexually noninfectious. The time for excuses is over."
Dr. Alison Rodger, lead author of PARTNER studies at International AIDS Conference (July, 2018)
"We need the undetectable equals untransmittable or U=U message to become standard knowledge worldwide. It needs to sound louder every day as this eases the burden of stigma and self-stigma of people living with HIV. It will save lives. It will reduce suicides, and murders of trans sex workers especially."
Dinah de Riquet Bons, Chair of TGEU - Transgender Europe at International AIDS Conference (July, 2018)
“U=U is the hallmark of what we’re doing because if you can get the infection level—the viral load—in any individual to below detectable, that person cannot transmit...That means we don’t have anybody transmitting infection. That’s what I mean when I say the concept of U=U is the foundation of being able to end the epidemic.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci at IAS 2019 (July, 2019)
What is U=U?
Prevention Access Campaign and a community of people living with HIV collaborated with the leading researchers on HIV sexual transmission to answer a fundamental question about living with HIV and having an undetectable viral load: Will I pass on HIV to my sexual partner?
The science is clear. People living with HIV can feel confident that if they have an undetectable viral load and take their medications as prescribed, they cannot pass on HIV to sexual partners (Undetectable = Untransmittable U=U).
U=U offers freedom and hope. For many people living with HIV and their partners, U=U opens up social, sexual, and reproductive choices they never thought would be possible. It is an unprecedented opportunity to transform the lives of people with HIV and the field:
Well-being of people with HIV: Transforms the social, sexual, and reproductive lives of people with HIV by freeing them from the shame and fear of sexual transmission to their partners.
HIV stigma: Dismantles the HIV stigma that has been destroying lives and impeding progress in the field since the beginning of the epidemic.
Treatment goals: Reduces the anxiety associated with testing, and encourages people living with HIV to start and stay on treatment to stay healthy and prevent transmission.
Universal access: Offers a public health argument to increase access and remove barriers to treatment, care, and diagnostics to save lives and prevent new transmissions.
However, the majority of millions of people living with HIV do not know U=U, and many do not have access to the diagnostics, treatment, and care they need to achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load. There are still confusing messages, outdated websites, and uninformed policymakers and healthcare workers who are not comfortable sharing this information, don't yet know about it, or don't yet realize the significance of it.
A January 2021 article in POZ Magazine cited a CDC model that shows "allocating more money to make sure every U.S. resident living with HIV achieves and maintains an undetectable viral load, rather than focusing on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), could slash new HIV cases by 94% by 2027." U=U is a foundational component of being able to end the HIV epidemic.
Prevention Access Campaign's U=U campaign has grown into a global movement of activists, researchers, and Community Partners that are changing what it means to live with HIV by ensuring the groundbreaking science reaches the people it was intended to benefit.
NOTE: An undetectable viral load is typically under 40 copies/ml depending on the diagnostic tests. However, studies show a person living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy (ART) with a viral load of under 200 copies/ml also cannot sexually transmit HIV. This is called being "virally suppressed." For the purposes of the U=U campaign and any Prevention Access Campaign materials, the term “undetectable” is used synonymously with the term “virally suppressed,” meaning a person living with HIV with a viral load of under 200 copies/ml cannot transmit HIV.
What if my viral load is not undetectable? Viral load does not equal Value
People living with HIV are more than just their lab results, and value isn't dictated by viral load. No one living with HIV is a danger. If you are living with HIV and you have a detectable viral load, there are highly effective HIV prevention options for safer sex including condoms, and in some parts of the world, PrEP for your HIV-negative partners, which can be used individually or in combination. Everyone living with HIV regardless of viral load can have full and healthy social, sexual, and reproductive lives.
Talk with your medical provider about the options available to you for your health and the health of your partners. For more information, see The Third U=Universal.
We invite you to take part in the movement and the message!
Become a U=U Community Partner - Join the growing global movement of over 1,000 organizations from 102 countries that have pledged to share the U=U message in ways that work for their communities. To sign up your organization, please visit PAC's Community Partner page.
Join U=U on Social Media - Healthline, one of the fastest growing consumer health information websites (more than 65 million monthly visitors), honored the U=U campaign as 2017 "Best HIV Patient Advocacy Organization,” and 2016 "Best Use of Social Media in HIV Advocacy" thanks to our strong global U=U social network. Please join the U=U Facebook Group, follow U=U on Twitter, use the hashtag #UequalsU to take part in the message and movement.
Write about U=U - The U=U campaign was awarded the #1 blog of 2016 by POZ.com, and received extensive coverage in a wide range of mainstream media outlets including CBS Evening News, The Washington Post, CNN, China Global Television, CBC Canada, US News & World Report, Newsweek, Reuters, and Medical Brief - Africa's Medical Media Digest. Get in touch with us if you'd like to share your story on the U=U blog.
Donate - U=U was launched almost entirely by volunteers in the first two years of the campaign. Please support the message and the movement that is changing what it means to live with HIV. Thank you!
What people are saying about #UequalsU
"U=U set me free."Lucy Wanjiku Njenga, Founder, Positive Young Women's Voices, Kenya (July, 2018)
"The concept of U=U is the foundation of being able to end the epidemic."Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director, NIAID, NIH Interview at International AIDS Conference (July, 2019)
"U=U is an essential component for ending the epidemic. When people learn that U=U, they are more likely to get tested and to start and stay on treatment. Staying on ART brings health benefits to PWH, their partners, and the general public." Maureen M. Goodenow, Ph.D., Director, NIH Office of AIDS Research (June 2018)
"U=U is a simple but hugely important campaign based on a solid foundation of scientific evidence. It has already been successful in influencing public opinion, causing more people with HIV (and their friends and families) to comprehend that they can live long, healthy lives, have children, and never have to worry about passing on their infection to others. The CDC officially backing the science behind the campaign is another key step towards U=U being the most important message of 2017 in the fight against HIV." The Lancet (November, 2017)
“The science really does verify and validate U=U." Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director, NIAID, NIH Speech at United States Conference on AIDS (September, 2017)
"Last month, the global medical and scientific community at the forefront of HIV research and care came together in Paris for the ninth International AIDS Society Conference, where they announced – unequivocally – that an undetectable HIV viral load means HIV is untransmittable." Dr. Julio Montaner, UBC-Killam Professor of Medicine; UBC-St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation chair in AIDS Research Editorial (August, 2017)
United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Resources
CDC Letter Approving Usage of U=U Communications (August, 2019)
CDC Global U=U Toolkit (July, 2019)
Downloadable U=U summaries & source documents
CLICK FOR MORE
U=U Resources, Fact Sheets, Infographics, Music, Videos, and More...