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8 HIV/AIDS Issues You Couldn't Stop Talking About in 2013

December 1, 2013

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"Undetectable": Safe or Not?

By Dave R.

Dave R.

Facebook Recommends/Shares/Likes: 90
Article & Facebook Comments:: 27

In a nutshell: The proliferation of research on "treatment as prevention" -- the use of HIV medications to help not only treat HIV-positive people, but reduce the risk of transmission to HIV-negative people -- has inevitably brought us to a critically important question: If a person's viral load is undetectable and they're on stable HIV treatment, can they "safely" have unprotected sex with a committed partner?

Quotable: "The idea that people living with HIV can safely have sex with anyone in the community again sticks in many a craw -- including, astonishingly enough, many HIV organizations, who see it as subversive to all the work they've been doing to promote condom use and safe sex! The word 'undetectable' has already been abused and misused to the point where many claim it to be meaningless. Proof that 'undetectable' means 'non-infectious,' or even proof that undetectable means the possibility of transmission still exists, is essential."

What our readers said:

"I am so tired of being rejected by HIV- gay men because I am HIV+ even though I am undetectable. I really don't think the stigma will change any time soon. Having HIV sucks, undetectable or not." -- Charles (From New Jersey)

"It appears from what we do now know that it may not be a case of undetectable equals safe or not. It seems there are other factors involved that increase or decrease the risk. These include whether there's an STD present ... which increases the risk. Whether the positive person is the insertive person or receptive (more risk if insertive). There may even be a slightly greater risk with the type of sex (vaginal being the safer than anal). Then there's the case of viral blips, which we're still not sure what consequences they have." -- Jeannie (From Bronx, N.Y.)

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