Advertisement
The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol

Information

An HIV Doctor Tells You if Undetectable Really Is the New Negative

January 27, 2015

Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H.

Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H.

Does being undetectable change the way you talk about your HIV status? Can a person who is undetectable stop worrying about transmitting HIV? Getting to undetectable isn't always easy to do -- and once you're there, it's definitely an accomplishment for your health. But, what exactly does it mean? On his personal Tumblr, Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H., an HIV doctor at Southwest CARE Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, answers questions from people living with HIV who are concerned about a number of issues, including their undetectable viral loads.

On Jan. 17, 2015, an anonymous user asked:

Hello doctor, I read in a previous post that someone says "undetectable is the new negative." Do you agree with this statement at least to some extent?

Dr. Gallant answered:

To some extent. From a transmission point of view, having an undetectable viral load is close to being negative. And from the standpoint of prognosis and life expectancy, people with undetectable viral loads and normal CD4 counts have more in common with HIV-negative people than they have with people with untreated HIV infection.

But there are still important differences between someone with well controlled HIV and someone without HIV -- if there weren't, we wouldn't still be looking for a cure. Even with well controlled HIV, you have a chronic medical condition that is expensive to treat and that causes an increase in chronic inflammation and immune activation. You still have viral DNA integrated into your own genome. I'm not willing to go so far as to say that "undetectable is the new negative," though I understand the sentiment.

How does this make you feel about having an undetectable viral load? If you have any more questions, make sure to visit our Ask the Experts forum on understanding your labs.

Mathew Rodriguez is the community editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.

Follow Mathew on Twitter: @mathewrodriguez.


Copyright © 2015 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.


Related Stories

How Often Do I Need to Get My HIV Labs Done?
Switching Pharmacies Is an Option if Your Pharmacy Gets in the Way of Your Adherence
Resistance/Viral Load & Transmission


This article was provided by TheBody.com.
 

 

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read TheBody.com's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:


Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:

Advertisement

The content on this page is free of advertiser influence and was produced by our editorial team. See our advertising policy.