HIV That is Undetectable is Untransmittable, Says NIAID

Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have concluded with “overwhelming” evidence that HIV positive people with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV sexually.

These results were published on January 10 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The report also found that those with HIV that are on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) are ensured long-term health as well as a significant reduction in HIV transmission rates. However, it can take up to six months of treatment to bring the viral load down to undetectable.

In over 77,000 examples of condomless sex between male couples, with one person having HIV and the other not, there was not a single transmission to the HIV negative person.

This concept of undetectable meaning untransmittable can give a lot of peace of mind to those diagnosed. The message can remove “the sense of fear and guilt that a person may be harming someone else, as well as the feeling of self-imposed and external stigma that many people with HIV experience.”

“The understanding that someone with HIV on effective treatment does not pose a transmission risk has the power to dispel much of the fear that results in stigma,” Matthew Hodson, Executive Director of NAM/AIDSmap, told Gay Star News. “It should not be a public health duty to inform all of us who are living with the virus and all of those whom we may encounter.”

There are several important things HIV positive people must do for the virus to remain untransmittable. Adhering to a medication regime is crucial, as “viral rebound usually occurs within 2 to 3 weeks” when ART is stopped.

HIV positive people should also have their viral load tested every 3-4 months for the first two years of treatment.