Undetectable

WHAT DOES UNDETECTABLE MEAN?

A viral load test will be able to show how much HIV is present in the blood.

 

The goal of HIV Treatment is to get the levels down to ‘undetectable’.  This does not mean that the HIV is gone, it means that the amount of HIV cannot be detected using current tests.  The results are given per millilitre of blood and generally speaking, if the results are undetectable, this means that there are fewer than 50, 40 or sometimes 20, copies per ml.

 

Many women have had babies who are HIV negative when the mother was living with HIV.  Less than one baby in a hundred contracts HIV during pregnancy, which means that over 99% of babies who are delivered to women living with HIV in the UK are born HIV-free.  Medical help is readily available for all HIV positive mothers-to-be and you should speak to your HIV consultant if you are planning to have a baby.

 

HIV consultants will not prescribe medication which is not directly related to HIV.  Therefore other health professionals including GPs and dentists will need to be involved in managing your overall health.  Many people are worried about confidentiality when disclosing their HIV status to other health professionals.  It is important to understand that your GP and dentist will work to the same confidentiality guidelines as your HIV team.  You should not be treated differently because of your HIV status.  For example, many people believe that if they disclose to their dentist they will be mad

The dietary guidance for someone living with HIV is more or less the same as for anyone else. It is important to keep an eye on your cholesterol so cutting down on processed meats, fats and sugars could be beneficial.

 

It is also important to have a balanced diet that includes the main food groups to include carbohydrates, protein and dietary fibre as well as limited amounts of fats, and in particular saturated fats.

 

If you have concerns about your diet, or smoking and alcohol intake, then you could speak to your GP.

 

Many people living with HIV are concerned about HIV and employment and any issues that may raise.  For the vast majority of jobs, there is no requirement that means you must tell your employer about your HIV diagnosis.  If you are worried about your confidentiality being breached, or being treated differently, then you may want to consider this carefully, but employers do have a responsibility to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ (for example, time off for clinic appointments) under the law.  People with HIV and who disclose their HIV status are protected under the Equality Act 2010.

HIV testing has never been easier.  Service providers now offer HIV tests in clinical settings and a wide range of community locations at times that you are likely to find convenient.

 

EARLY DIAGNOSIS

Knowing your HIV status puts you in control of your health and means you can access the medical treatment and support you need to stay well.  With early diagnosis, treatment and healthcare, people living with HIV can expect a normal life expectancy.  You can only know your HIV status by taking a HIV test

 

Due to new developments in treatments there are now a variety of drugs available to treat HIV. The drugs used to treat HIV are more refined and more effective than they have ever been, they’re much safer and have fewer side effects associated with them.  These improvements have dramatically changed the life expectancy of people living with HIV. Medically, HIV is classed as a long term manageable condition.

U = U: UNDETECTABLE = UNTRANSMITTABLE

George House Trust is proud to be a Community Partner of the ‘Undetectable Equals Untransmittable’ (U=U) Consensus Statement issued by the Prevention Access Campaign and strongly endorses the research supported message that people living with HIV and with a sustained undetectable viral load cannot pass HIV to their sexual partners.

 

PEP

PEP is a combination of HIV drugs which can be used to reduce the likelihood of a HIV negative person getting HIV after they have been exposed to the virus.  PEP needs to be prescribed, and can be obtained from A&E departments or sexual health clinics.  PEP needs to be taken as soon after exposure as possible to increase its chances of working effectively.  In the UK, PEP can be taken up to 72 hours after exposure.  However, it is much less likely to be effective when used this late.

 

CD4 COUNT

This measure is an indication of the strength of the immune system.

 

CD4 cells are an extremely important part of our immune system, HIV attacks these cells which can affect the number of them in the body.  Doctors will test a cubic ml of blood, and use this to determine the CD4 count i.e. the number of CD4 cells in the sample.  This will then allow the doctor to see how healthy a person’s immune system is. The higher the CD4 count, the healthier the immune system is.

 

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Living with HIV? Want to talk to us?
Call 0161 274 4499 or email: talk@ght.org.uk

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