Yes, I said it. Undetectable equals untransmittable. This is a silent secret evidently in the HIV world. I have known this for a long time, but the stigma around having HIV has kept me quiet about it too. I’ve been reading a lot on the topic and I think that if people knew this that there would be a little less stigma and it could also lead to more people being tested, more medication adherence, and much more.
What it basically means is that someone who is undetectable (has no HIV present in their blood when tested) for at least 6 months cannot infect their sexual partners.
I am tested every 3 months. They do two basic big tests. One is my “viral load” test, which measures the amount of HIV in my blood stream. The second is my CD4 cell count, which is also known as the “T-cell” count. This is a measure of how strong my immune system is. The higher the number the better.
I have been consistently testing in the zero range on my viral load tests now for over 3 years. And my T-Cell count is always above 600. (The average woman without HIV is around 500).
So, basically I am not someone who you can get HIV from in a sexual situation. This is a huge relief to me personally, as that is always a worry with me.
The hardest thing for me about living with HIV is dealing with having to tell a potential partner that I have this condition. I am very out with my status. I have been since the beginning (1992 for me) of living with this virus. I found out in 1992, but I had had no high risk behavior for 3 years prior to my being tested, so most likely I contracted the virus in 1988-89 when engaging in IV drug use. I believe I know when it happened specifically because I was always a very careful user, and didn’t make it a habit of sharing needles.
Telling a person who you may become sexually involved with at some point isn’t easy. There is so much stigma surrounding the disease. But I have found in my own experience that the more educated a person is in general the more accepting they are – and this is something that many have grown up with and know a good bit about now. I am always open to questions, and I stay well-informed so that I have accurate and current information for anyone who asks.
Undetectable = Untransmittable
“People living with HIV on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and virally suppressed, are not capable of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner. With successful ART, that individual is no longer infectious.”
Dr.Carl Dieffenbach, National Institute of Health, 8/26/16
I couldn’t imagine dating in today’s world without knowing the status of my partner before we ever had sex. I urge everyone to be tested. It’s just normal protocol nowadays and something everyone should do. You can even do home testing now. It’s become quick, easy and stays confidential.
Would you date someone with HIV, knowing this information above? It’s a difficult question for many, because we remember when people were dying of AIDS because of this virus. I remember vividly thinking I was going to be one of them a long time ago. But now with today’s treatments and good living I am looking at living to a ripe old age and leading a normal life. Thank God.