HIV undetectable = untransmittable: NIHMarch 7, 2019
Clinical evidence has firmly established the HIV Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) concept as scientifically sound, say officials from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), US.
U=U means that people living with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load by taking and adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others.
Officials from NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) summarise results from large clinical trials and cohort studies validating U=U. The landmark NIH-funded HPTN 052 clinical trial showed that no linked HIV transmissions occurred among HIV serodifferent heterosexual couples when the partner living with HIV had a durably suppressed viral load. Subsequent
studies confirmed these findings and extended them to male-male couples, NIH observed in a commentary in JAMA.
Validation of the HIV treatment as a prevention strategy and acceptance of the U=U concept as scientifically sound have numerous behavioural, social and legal implications, the NIAID officials note. U=U can help control the HIV pandemic by preventing HIV transmission, and it can reduce the stigma that many people with HIV face.
HIV prevention method determines the success of U=U as it depends on achieving and maintaining an undetectable viral load by taking ART daily as prescribed.