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People living with HIV who take antiretroviral medication as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV to their sexual partners.
Treatment with antiretroviral medication is recommended for all people living with HIV. The medication reduces the amount of HIV within the body and reduces the chance of transmission. That means healthier, longer lives.
Undetectable=Untransmittable, or U=U, is a powerful HIV prevention tool. It redefines living with HIV, reducing stigma and empowering people to live their lives to the fullest.
- Undetectable means that a person living with HIV has such a small amount of virus in their blood it cannot be detected by a lab test.
- Achieving an undetectable viral load is only the start. Staying undetectable is key for long-term health and prevention benefits.
- U=U is based on studies that included more than 1,600 couples* and reported no sexual transmission.
- So far, U=U has only been proven for sexual transmission. Other modes of transmission, like breastfeeding or injection-drug use, have not been fully studied.
- Although U=U does not apply to breastfeeding, it is well known that, based on peer-reviewed studies conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association and backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women who are HIV positive and undetectable have an over 99% chance of NOT transmitting HIV while the baby is in utero and during delivery.
*A clinical trial that included additional participants but also studied othe treatment factors. For more information on the science behind U=U, see thr Center for Disease Control and Preventions.
*Evidence of HOV Treatment and Viral Supression in Preventing the Sexual Transmission of HIV factsheet at cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/risk/art/cdc-hiv-art-viral-suppression.pdf
Other Prevention Facts
- People who are HIV negative can take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent acquiring HIV.
- Condoms are still important for protecting against sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy.