In a statement released today, the AIDS United Public Policy Committee -- the largest and longest-running national coalition of community-based HIV/AIDS organizations -- strongly affirmed the conclusive evidence proving that people living with HIV who have achieved a sustained, undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV to sexual partners. This evidence-based declaration reinforces AIDS United's programmatic, policy and advocacy work to expand access to antiretroviral medications to all people living with HIV.
"This is a landmark development in the response to HIV and too many people are not hearing this message and receiving its full benefit," said AIDS United President & CEO Jesse Milan, Jr. "A person living with HIV with a sustained suppressed viral load poses no risk of transmitting HIV. This is a game changer because it makes achieving viral suppression bigger than people living with HIV taking care of their own health, it is also about taking care of others too. This development puts each one of us living with HIV at the forefront of stopping new infections, and gives everyone strong, clear and direct language to stop the stigma and move all communities faster towards ending the epidemic."
In addition to signing the consensus statement issued by the Prevention Access Campaign, the AIDS United Public Policy Committee calls for:
- Providers and educators to consistently share that evidence demonstrates that a person living with HIV who has a sustained, undetectable viral load cannot sexually transmit HIV to another person.
- The Department of Health and Human Services Antiretroviral Guidelines Committee to examine this issue further and consider updating guidelines language.
- States to modernize HIV criminal laws and policies to reflect the science related to viral suppression and HIV transmission risk.
Advancing these recommendations will be incorporated into the Public Policy Committee's policy agenda.
In the United States, more than 1.2 million people live with HIV and according to the most recent CDC data available, 37,600 people contracted HIV in 2014. Yet, less than one-third of people living with HIV in this country consistently receive the medical care needed to sustain an undetectable viral load. Bringing people living with HIV into and retaining them in care is critical to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this country. Helping people understand that maintaining viral suppression not only maintains health but also prevents transmission can encourage people living with HIV to initiate and adhere to treatment regimens and may help reduce HIV-related stigma.
"We won't end this epidemic until all people understand this advancement and support access to antiretroviral care and other supportive services for people living with HIV. The science is clear and now we must put science to work," said Milan.