A new health campaign is spreading the word about undetectable viral load (UVL) as an effective way to prevent HIV transmission.
U=U is the first campaign of its kind in Australia, promoting the proven science that shows passing on HIV to a partner is impossible with a sustained UVL through effective treatment.
From community HIV movement the Institute of Many (TIM) and PrEP importation website Dynamix International, the campaign aims to empower people living with HIV and their allies and partners to feel more confident about the science of UVL.
“Even though people living with HIV have known for years that we are not at risk of passing on HIV if we have an undetectable viral load, there is still so much stigma and fear attached to HIV,” said TIM co-founder Nic Holas.
“It’s not enough for us to be confident that we are protecting our partners.
“Our partners and potential partners also need to understand that undetectable viral load means there is absolutely no risk of them contracting HIV.”
U=U will feature the faces and stories of both HIV-negative and HIV-positive people whose experiences with UVL have opened up the ways they experience sex, intimacy, and connection.
A video series titled “U do U” will provide a glimpse into how U=U has changed HIV prevention and sex.
The campaign builds on the international success of the U=U movement, spearheaded by the global Prevention Access Campaign.
“A lot of the stigma faced by people living with HIV plays out on dating and hook-up apps, so something people can instantly recognise, like U=U, will help break down misconceptions about HIV,” said Holas.
“By launching U=U in Australia we are joining a global movement that places people living with HIV at the heart of HIV prevention.”
Davey, an HIV-negative man who uses PrEP, said he is learning more after growing up in rural Queensland with a lot of myths about HIV and AIDS.
“The more I understand about HIV, PrEP, and U=U, the better I’m able to protect myself and my partners,” said Davey.
“HIV stigma is really outdated and unnecessary. It’s a by-product of the fear campaigns from the 80s. It’s also a cop-out to treat queer people poorly.
“Undetectable viral loads are game-changing. It means if someone has a UVL, they can’t transmit the virus.
“Things are definitely changing.”