Dr. Mark Wilson with the Jefferson County Department of Health joins us to discuss "U=U." The Jefferson County Board of Health endorsed the "U=U" message and urged the Jefferson County Department of Health and its partners to spread the "U=U" message. U=U stands for "Undetectable = Untransmittable." This message affirms good news that is now established as a medical fact: Effective treatment of HIV infection completely prevents sexual transmission of the virus.
Specifically, we now have strong evidence that persons with HIV who have a sustained undetectable viral load through treatment with anti-HIV medicines - known as antiretroviral therapy or ART, have virus levels that cannot be spread through sexual contact. Sustained undetectable viral load is defined as less than 200 virus copies per milliliter for at least 6 months. So, now, not only can people with HIV live long, healthy lives, they can now enter into relationships without fear of spreading the virus to their loved one. This is certainly good news for people currently living with HIV. But it is also really important for another reason: It means we are closer to ending the HIV epidemic! Currently, we are doing a pretty good job of screening people for HIV and detecting new cases; and if those people get into treatment and stay on treatment, over 90 percent of them can achieve sustained suppression of their virus.
But we still have a lot of people with known HIV infection who are not getting into treatment or staying on treatment, due to stigma, fear, misinformation or other barriers. Now, if we can get everyone living with HIV into long-term, effective treatment, we can STOP the spread of HIV and end the epidemic. The Jefferson County Department of Health believes that spreading this simple "U=U" message will encourage more people living with HIV to get into treatment and stay on treatment. For HIV testing or resources to help prevent the spread of HIV, including HIV PreP, call 205-930-1175 or go to www.jcdh.org.