what is undetectable?

Do you really know what “undetectable” means?

Can you get HIV if you have sex with someone who is undetectable?

A person living with HIV is said to be “undetectable” when their viral load is undetectable. A person who is undetectable cannot sexually transmit HIV to their partners. People living with HIV who have been undetectable for at least six months and consistently adhere to antiretroviral treatment (ART) have a near zero chance of sexually transmitting the virus.

We have to consciously challenge our shame and our fear around HIV whenever possible or we will continue to unnecessarily and irrationally oppress our own people. —Nick Fager

“These results are simple to understand—zero transmissions from over 58,000 individual times that people had sex without condoms…[PARTNER study] provides the strongest estimate of actual risk of HIV transmission when an HIV positive person has undetectable viral load – and that this risk is effectively zero.” Simon Collins, Steering Committee, PARTNER.

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It’s riskier to have unprotected sex with a guy who says that he’s negative but hasn’t been tested in the last six months than a guy who is living with HIV, undetectable and on medication. Not knowing your status is riskier than being HIV positive and undetectable. Let that sink in and if you’re not sure about your status, go get tested.

It’s time to stop the stigma against people living with HIV that are undetectable

Despite hard scientific evidence that there is a zero or near zero chance of sexual transmission of HIV when undetectable, gay-on-gay stigmas still persist. “It’s easy to let fear, shame and trauma keep us stuck in outdated beliefs that lead us to discriminate against HIV positive people, but this is hard scientific data and it’s no longer acceptable to let those beliefs guide our actions,” notes Nick Fager, MHC-LP, a gay psychotherapist who specializes in LGBT issues. “We have to consciously challenge our shame and our fear around HIV whenever possible or we will continue to unnecessarily and irrationally oppress our own people.”

Related: Why Do Many Gay Men Suffer from Intimacy Issues?

Hear Nick Fager discuss what it means to be “undetectable.”