There are two ways we’re getting closer to halting new cases of HIV and ending the AIDS epidemic once and for all: U=U and PrEP.
U=U, or undetectable equals untransmittable, refers to people living with HIV who are adhering to proper treatment reaching an undetectable viral load. This means they are unable to transmit the virus sexually.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in regards to U=U in both heterosexual men and women, and men who have sex with men (MSM):
“For persons who achieve and maintain viral suppression, there is effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative sexual partner. This translates to an effectiveness estimate of 100% for taking ART [antiretroviral therapy] regularly as prescribed and achieving and maintaining viral suppression. Effectiveness is lower, and there is a risk of transmitting HIV, when persons do not take ART as prescribed or stop taking ART, if viral suppression is not achieved, or if viral suppression is not maintained.”
PrEP is an acronym for pre-exposure prophylaxis. Used by HIV-negative individuals, PrEP is a medication that reduces their risk of acquiring HIV. So far the only approved form of PrEP is the daily tablet Truvada, but more forms are in the works.
In regards to PrEP and MSM, the CDC says:
“When taking PrEP daily, [the] risk of acquiring HIV is reduced by about 99% among MSM. [The] effectiveness of oral PrEP is highly dependent on PrEP adherence. When taking oral PrEP daily, [HIV] acquisition is extremely rare and has not been observed in any of the studies. In clinical practice, a few cases of new HIV infections have been confirmed while HIV-negative individuals were on PrEP with verified adherence.”
According to this new federal data from the CDC, U=U is 100% effective at preventing HIV transmission and PrEP reduces the risk of acquiring the virus by 99% in men who have sex with men (MSM).