THE AIM OF TREATMENT IS TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF HIV IN THE SYSTEM TO LEVELS WHERE IT CAN’T BE DETECTED
Once the levels of HIV have fallen to undetectable levels, the body stops over-producing CD4 cells, and the immune system can then start to repair itself. The HIV hasn’t gone, but it remains in only tiny levels in the body.
BEING UNDETECTABLE MEANS THAT YOU WON’T PASS HIV ON
It’s true! Research has shown that people with a sustained undetectable viral load will not pass on HIV during sex. So as well as keeping you healthy, taking HIV medication means that, once you’re undetectable, you won’t pass HIV on to your sexual partners.
ADHERING WELL IS KEY
You’ll only achieve undetectability by taking your medication regularly and as prescribed by your HIV doctor. If you’re having problems with adhering to your meds, our Services Advisers can help with tips and hints.
YOU MAY SOMETIMES SEE A SLIGHT RISE OR ‘BLIP’ IN YOUR VIRAL LOAD
It happens - don’t worry about it. Your HIV doctor will explain the reasons for it but it would be rare for your viral load to rise suddenly to such a level that it causes long term problems. So long as the viral load isn’t consistently detectable sudden blips shouldn’t cause any problems.
BEING UNDETECTABLE WILL HELP STOP HIV FROM DOING DAMAGE TO YOUR SYSTEM
When you’re not taking treatment, the body produces way more CD4 cells in an attempt to control the HIV. In turn, HIV targets these cells meaning that damage can occur to the immune system. By getting the HIV down to an undetectable level, the immune system stops working overtime - and can then start to repair itself.
UNDETECTABILITY HELPS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV STIGMA
We know that much of the stigma comes from peoples’ fear of contracting HIV. This fear might just disappear once everyone gets the message that HIV can’t be passed on with an undetectable viral load.
YOUR HIV DOCTOR MAY FOCUS MORE ON YOUR VIRAL LOAD THAN ON YOUR CD4
If you’ve been diagnosed early, your HIV doctor will be much more interested in getting your viral load to undetectable levels, once he or she has decided with you that treatment is your best option. Your CD4 count (and percentage) will still be monitored - however it may not be the focus of your appointments once your treatment has begun.
EVERYONE NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT BEING UNDETECTABLE ACTUALLY MEANS
Whilst more and more people living with HIV are learning about the massive benefits of being undetectable, there’s still a lot to do to make sure that everyone understands that U=U. Undetectable equals Untransmittable.