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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 29, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 39
Historic CDC announcement:
U = U: Undetectable means untransmittable
Section One
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Historic CDC announcement:
U = U: Undetectable means untransmittable

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In a historic statement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed what many doctors and scientists have been suggesting - that HIV-positive people whose viral load has been suppressed by treatment with anti-retroviral therapy (ART) do not transmit HIV to their sexual partners.

To put it simply, undetectable means untransmittable.

'Across three different studies, including thousands of couples and many thousand acts of sex without a condom or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP),' the September 27 CDC statement says, 'no HIV transmissions to an HIV-negative partner were observed when the HIV-positive person was virally suppressed.

'This means that people who take ART daily as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.'

'This is the moment we have been waiting for!' Bruce Richman, executive director of UequalsU.org and the Prevention Access Campaign exclaimed. 'The CDC agreed today there is 'effectively no risk' of sexually transmitting HIV when on treatment and undetectable.'

Richman went to congratulate 'all the pioneering people and partners in this community and in the city, state, and federal health departments who worked together outside and inside the system to make this change.

'What a beautiful moment! The CDC's new and unequivocal language is a result of [the US Department of Health and Human Services'] unprecedented review of transmission risk messaging across departments, which will be rolling out core messaging in the coming weeks and months.'

The science behind the CDC announcement has been known for a while. At this year's US Conference on AIDS, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, confirmed that 'the science really does verify and validate U = U (Undetectable = Untransmittable).'

Hundreds of other experts and HIV organizations previously signed on to a public recognition that HIV-positive persons whose treatment has brought their viral load to an undetectable level cannot transmit HIV to any other person. That includes nearly half of all HIV-positive people in the US.

The CDC's statement was not all good news, however. Gay and Bisexual men, the CDC noted, continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV: 'More than 26,000 gay and bisexual men received an HIV diagnosis in 2015, representing two-thirds of all new diagnoses in the United States, and diagnoses increased among Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men from 2010 to 2014.'

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