It’s the advancements in HIV research and treatment for us.
Yes, you heard us! Many people living with HIV today are THRIVING and living healthy lives like anyone else – including their sex and relationships.
But stigma still exists, and not everyone knows the latest on HIV. Do you?

What’s U=U?

If you’re on dating or hookup apps like Grindr, you might’ve seen some people put ‘undetectable’ on their bio. Or maybe you’ve never heard of it before. We’re about to school you on some #FACTS.
When a person living with HIV takes HIV treatment (a combination of medications known as Anti-Retroviral Therapy or ART), over time, it can reduce the amount of HIV in their body (viral load) to a level so low, that it can’t be detected in a blood test (this is called an undetectable viral load or viral suppression). When a person’s viral load is undetectable, it is impossible to pass on HIV through sex.

Pretty cool, isn’t it?  

This scientifically proven fact is known as Undetectable = Untransmittable, or U=U. This normally happens when a person living with HIV has been working with a doctor to look after their health. People living with HIV who have access to treatment and care may refer to themselves as being undetectable and having an undetectable viral load. This does not mean that they are cured of HIV.

HIV treatment prevents the virus from creating more copies of itself within the body. Taking HIV treatment regularly suppresses the viral load in most people. This process can take up to as little as one month, but most people who are able to stick to their medication routine achieve viral suppression within the first six months of being on treatment.
It’s important for people living with HIV to take treatment as prescribed in order to prevent the  virus from developing resistance. When HIV medication is not taken consistently, it can give the virus a chance to mutate and become stronger against the HIV medication, allowing the virus to replicate in your body, making the treatment less effective and harder to achieve viral suppression. There are only a certain number of HIV drugs available and switching regimens may have different side effects on your body. If side effects happen, it’s best to tell your healthcare provider what you’re experiencing so you can work with them to develop a drug combination and treatment plan that works for you and your lifestyle. There are many different combinations available, and most people living with HIV are likely to find an effective treatment with little or no side effects. Most people living with HIV today are on treatment that consists of just one pill a day.

Whatever the treatment plan is, sticking to medication is the best way to keep a viral load down and be undetectable. 💯

Treatment = Love

HIV treatment is first and foremost about taking care of your health, which is an act of self-love. The decision to begin treatment is a personal choice, but the sooner you start medication, the better. It’s important that people who test positive for HIV get connected to a doctor as soon as they are ready, so that they can talk about the care and medication that’s going to work for them.

Everyone deserves
the care that’s
right for them!

People who have HIV often learn a lot about taking care of their bodies. They have unique health needs and it’s recommended they keep a routine of visiting their doctor to look after their general health. Getting connected to other supports, like HIV/AIDS Service Organizations and meeting other people living with HIV are also really great ways to get additional care and support!  

Research shows that when treatment is started early, it can increase a person’s life span and significantly reduce the risk of developing serious health conditions. It’s recommended that people who are diagnosed with HIV start treatment as soon as possible.

Adhering to taking medication every day can be challenging but talk to your doctor about ways to manage and improve this.

Getting the care you need for HIV is good for you and also good for the people you’re having sex with.

Being undetectable works as well as a condom in preventing HIV transmission, but it’s not something you can see. The only way to know if you’re undetectable is through getting regular blood tests with your doctor. Even if one person is undetectable, it’s still the best idea to stick to your routine of safer sex practices to protect you from getting other STIs. Read up on our prevention methods here.

There is no cure for HIV, but lots of people living with HIV are doing well, and living full, healthy, sexual and emotional lives. 🙌

Still, having HIV can be challenging, and changes the way people living with HIV have to take care of themselves. That’s why it’s good for all folks to know how HIV works and how to stop it from being passed on.

Connecting to Care

No matter who you are or where you are in your life, you deserve support, care, respect, information, and access to treatment and care. There may be services near your area or close to you, so use to connect with people for support.

Joining groups for people who are living with HIV or connecting with others who have been diagnosed can also be helpful. Know that there is a community for you. Reach out to your local HIV/AIDS Service Organization or other HIV/AIDS community supports.

Disclosure Support

Telling someone you have HIV is your decision. You don’t have to disclose your status to family, friends, or healthcare providers outside of your HIV healthcare provider. You don’t have to tell your co-workers, employers, people at school, or landlords. There is some legal stuff to think about when telling sexual partners about your HIV status. Visit the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network for more info.

Disclosure involves a lot of other things to consider too. Here are some questions you can ask yourself or discuss within your circle of support:

1. Who can I trust to be nonjudgmental?
2. Who can I rely on to support me?
3. Who will treat me with respect and kindness?
4. Who can I trust to keep this information confidential?

There are also resources on HIV transmission, which may be helpful in discussions around disclosure. You can find more tips here.
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