Good for your health, and good for the sex you want! Studies show that people living with HIV who are on treatment and have an undetectable viral load do not transmit HIV to their HIV negative sexual partners. This is great news, and means that undetectable viral load is a highly effective HIV prevention strategy like condoms or PrEP.
What if gay men living with HIV could lead long, healthy lives and enjoy sex without transmitting HIV to their sexual partners?
For a lot of guys, HIV treatment makes this a reality.
You may have heard guys talk about “undetectable”, or list it in their hook-up profile. But what does it mean?
“Undetectable” is short for “undetectable viral load”, and viral load refers to the amount of HIV in your bloodstream.
A lower viral load means a lower likelihood of HIV transmission.
“Undetectable viral load” means that the amount of HIV in the blood is so low that it doesn’t show up in the test used to detect it.
Maintaining an undetectable viral load is great for an HIV-positive guy’s health.
Staying in HIV care and having a consistently undetectable viral load is also a highly effective strategy to reduce the likelihood of HIV transmission during sex.
With an undetectable viral load, the chance of transmitting the virus is negligible; in fact, new research suggests it may not even be possible.
In recent, large-scale studies of couples, where one partner did not have HIV, and the other was undetectable, no HIV infections took place—even when they didn’t use condoms.
This is strong scientific evidence!
And because it’s so effective, many guys consider undetectable viral load when making decisions about their sexual health.
Becoming undetectable requires HIV-positive guys to take their HIV medications as prescribed.
For most guys, this takes three to six months after they start HIV treatment, but for some it can take longer.
Still, even with medications, not everybody living with HIV will be able to reach or maintain an undetectable viral load; there are lots of reasons why this can happen.
Not taking medication as prescribed is the most common reason. Sometimes we forget, or we get too high or we’re depressed. Get support if you need it.
As a poz guy, it is important to have regular viral load testing and confirm with your doctor that you are undetectable before using it as your only HIV prevention strategy.
Whether you’re poz or neg, remember that undetectable viral load doesn’t prevent other STIs, so make sure you get tested regularly.
Today, there are lots of strategies guys can depend on to prevent HIV. We can enjoy hot sex regardless of a guy’s HIV status or viral load.
Like PrEP and condoms, undetectable viral load is a great way for many guys to have the sex they want!
For more information on undetectable viral load, visit thesexyouwant.ca.