BEGINNING SUMMER 2018
The U=U POD is out in the Phoenix LGBTQ Community:
THE THIRD WEEK OF EVERY MONTH
Medical Provider Assistance
Co-Pay Assistance Card Activation
ZERO Stigma Campaign
FREE Pill Keepers
Linkage to Care Info
WHAT IS U=U?
Undetectable equals Untransmittable (U=U) is a global consensus statement from hundreds of experts, HIV organizations, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stating that a person living with HIV who has a sustained, undetectable viral load is not able to transmit the virus to an HIV-negative partner. Period.
GO FIND LOVE!
With condoms, PrEP, and U=U, there are more ways than ever to prevent the spread of HIV – regardless of status. So go ahead, go find love!
Test Your Knowledge!
ROAD TO UNDETECTABLE
ROAD TO UNDETECTABLE
Like diabetes or other chronic conditions, HIV can be highly managed if a person seeks treatment. HIV medications prevent the virus from replicating inside the body and keeps the virus at-bay.
A person living with HIV is considered to have an ‘undetectable’ viral load when antiretroviral (ARV) treatment has brought the level of virus in their body to such low levels that blood tests cannot detect it.
Many people living with HIV can achieve an undetectable viral load by adhering to antiretroviral treatment over a period of at least six months.
There is no risk of passing on HIV if your doctor has confirmed that you are undetectable (or virally suppressed), you continue taking your treatment and attend regular viral load monitoring appointments.
Being undetectable isn’t a constant state and if you stop taking your medication then your viral load will go back up again.
HIV care is available to everyone – with or without insurance and regardless of your immigration status. Find an HIV provider here or learn more about accessing care if you need assistance.
QUICK START: HIV Treatment
Do you have insurance, no insurance, or insurance that doesn’t cover enough?
If you have insurance and a primary care provider, make an appointment with your provider or find an HIV specialty provider here.
If you don’t have insurance, or if your insurance doesn’t cover enough for you to pay for treatment, call Care Directions’ Central Eligibility Office anytime Monday – Thursday 8am – 4pm at 602-212-3788 to set up an intake appointment to qualify for Ryan White Program Medical Services.
Before going to your first (or any) medical appointment, make a list of questions you have about HIV or your treatment. Be honest with your provider and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Ask your provider the best way to contact them if you have questions along the way!
Your first appointment may be longer than a typical appointment.
Follow-up appointments will be needed every 3-6 months. They’ll be shorter, but will give you an opportunity to review your previous lab results with your provider to stay on-track with treatment.
Step 3: Labs
Each time you visit your provider, they’ll want to run labs to ensure your treatment plan is working. They’ll draw blood samples to check your immune system and viral load (the amount of HIV in your bloodstream), screen for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), tuberculosis, hepatitis, etc.
If you receive Ryan White Program Services, be sure to keep your lab results handy – you’ll need them every 6 months for your renewals.
Be proud of your results! Undetectable not only means the virus is untransmittable to your partner(s), but it also means there is less HIV in your body. Less HIV means less damage to your immune system, allowing you to stay healthier!
Step 4: Take It!
It probably goes without saying, but HIV treatment will only work if you take your medications every day!
Find a routine that works for you to take the medication around the same time each day. For instance, keep the bottle next to your toothbrush, coffee mug, or keys – something you go to each day. Use a medication reminder app on your phone, or pick-up a weekly pill box organizer! Whatever works for you, stick with it!
Learn more about U=U!
What does undetectable mean?
Being HIV Undetectable means that the traces of the virus are so low that today’s medical tests can not find HIV. It does’t mean HIV has been cured, it simply means it is not detectable.
So, when someone says that they are undetectable, it literally means that they have reached a point of which their virus is not detectable by modern lab tests and they cannot transmit HIV to sexual partner.
How long does it take someone to become undetectable?
Each person who takes antiretroviral therapy (ART) is different, and the time it takes to become undetectable will vary from person to person. However, there is an almost immediate reduction in the viral load and infectiousness of someone as soon as they begin therapy. With an effective treatment plan, maintaining an undetectable viral load for at least 6 months is important to ensure the virus isn’t transmitted to another person.
I met a guy who's undetectable - do we need to use condoms?
If you just met a guy, it’s always important to consider using condoms, including casual sex partners and random hook ups. While a person’s viral load may be undetectable, there are other things you’ll want to think about – like STI’s or when his last viral load test was.
If you get to a point where you’re only having sex with each other and want to take the condoms off, make sure he has at least a 6-month sustained viral load and/or consider taking PrEP!
Talk about it ahead of time and understand the risks together so you can get on with having fun!
I met a guy who's HIV-negative - how do I make sure I don't transmit the virus to him?
You have options, my friend! First, you take care of YOU! By getting into treatment and staying in treatment – you can sustain an undetectable viral load. And the science is in that Undetectable = Untransmittable! Get to undetectable, and you’ll be creating a healthier you, and making sure the virus isn’t transmitted.
If you’re just starting out, condoms should be on the menu. Swapping STI’s isn’t always the best way to kick things off. It’s not just about what the positive partner may transmit – but the positive partner doesn’t want to have other STI’s transmitted to him, either.
If you meet Mr. Right, and you’re thinking about taking the condoms off – the science shows that PrEP is 99% effective when taken daily by the HIV-negative partner, and that a person living with HIV who has a sustained, undetectable viral load cannot transmit the virus to a partner. So, research PrEP and U=U, talk with each other, check out your labs, and make a decision about condoms that you both feel comfortable with! The science is there, but you both have to be there too!
When I get undetectable, can I stop taking meds?
Unfortunately, no. Becoming undetectable means the treatment is working! Remaining on and adhering to treatment is the key to staying undetectable and stopping the virus from replicating inside your body.
If you stop taking your meds, HIV will pick right back up impacting your immune system, your health may deteriorate and your risk of transmitting HIV dramatically increases. Additionally, if you don’t adhere to the treatment plan as prescribed by your doctor, the HIV in your body could become drug-resistant.
Can I become undetectable without taking meds?
It’s reported that only about 1 in 300 people with HIV are able to keep their viral load suppressed without taking medications. Most people have to take HIV meds to control the virus and become undetectable.
How often should I get my viral load checked?
It really depends on you doctor’s treatment plan, but generally you’ll have your viral load checked at least every three to six months. Talk with your doctor to determine what’s best for you!