U=U and Why It Matters

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Stopping HIV Stigma and Discrimination 

Since the start of the epidemic, HIV stigma and stereotypes around the disease have existed. HIV stigma is the negative attitudes or beliefs people think about those living with HIV. Stigmas are untrue thoughts people draw about what they think it means to have HIV but aren’t accurate to what HIV actually is.  

Stigmas against HIV may include: 

  • Believing only certain people can get HIV  
  • Believing people deserve to have HIV because of their lifestyle or choices  
  • Judging people who seek HIV prevention methods  

Slightly different from HIV stigmas, HIV discrimination includes any time people are treated differently because they have HIV or are suspected of having it.  

HIV discrimination may lead to someone: 

  • Receiving poor/limited healthcare or education  
  • Being denied employment or losing it 
  • Being a victim of violence and hate crimes  

As a result of HIV stigma and discrimination, people may: 

  • Avoid HIV testing because they don’t want to know their status 
  • Hide their HIV status from family members or sexual partners  
  • Delay medical care and treatment  

HIV stigma and discrimination can come from many places, like a fear of death from HIV progressing into AIDS after transmission and more. But while HIV can’t be cured, there are treatments that allow people living with HIV to live long and healthy lives as well as stop the spread to others.  

What does U=U mean? 

U=U stands for Undetectable = Untransmittable. It’s an informational campaign about how effective HIV medications are in preventing sexual transmission of HIV. U=U means that if a person living with HIV is taking HIV treatment as prescribed to them by a healthcare provider and they reach an undetectable viral load, like antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV cannot be transmitted to sexual partner who does not have HIV.  

U=U is backed up by organizations like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH).  

What does this mean for people living with HIV? 

In addition to not transferring HIV to a sexual partner, when a person is undetectable, condoms are not required to prevent HIV transmission. But it is important to remember that being undetectable doesn’t protect against other sexually transmitted infections or prevent HIV transmission from needle sharing.  

What does this mean for HIV stigma and discrimination? 

U=U is a powerful message in ending the HIV epidemic, along with stopping HIV stigma and discrimination. With consistent and effective treatment, people living with HIV are able to control their viral loads and become undetectable.  

If you believe you are at a higher risk of getting HIV, don’t let the fear of stigma and discrimination stop you from getting the care you need. To learn more about HIV, visit TakeControlHIV.com.  

You can also get started owning your health and your future with the right reproductive healthcare tools by scheduling visit with a provider at KeepRelationshipsReal.com