U=U has revolutionised the HIV story across the world
2019-06-01 12:12:41 -

The story of HIV at inception started with a ‘no cure’ tag, such that the message was contracting HIV equalled death. Sadly, this was true for far too long, but today the story is very different thanks to the success of anti-retroviral drugs. HIV is a treatable condition now, and a positive test is no longer a death sentence. When treatment starts and remains constant, the viral load will go down to the point where it is no longer detectable in your body. And when it is undetectable, it is untransmittable — U=U.

What does this mean, U=U?

When one tests positive for HIV and takes their HIV medication as prescribed by a doctor, the medication will work to bring the viral load down to the point of being undetectable, and when this is the case you can no longer pass on HIV to anybody — not to your sexual partner, and not to your unborn baby.

How do we know this is true?

U=U is based on a solid foundation of scientific evidence. According to esteemed medical journal The Lancet, U-U “has already been successful in influencing many people with HIV (and their friends and families) to comprehend that they can live long, healthy lives, have children and never have to worry about passing on their infection to others”.


If I am HIV-positive, what does this mean for me?

This means that you can now feel confident that if you take your HIV medicines properly and regularly as prescribed by your doctor to the point where your infection is no longer detectable, then you have reached the point where all the good news begins:

- You cannot pass your HIV infection to another person when you have sex;

- You cannot pass your HIV infection to your unborn baby while you are pregnant; and

- You cannot pass your HIV infection to your baby through breastfeeding.


But I don’t know if I HIV.

So, find out by getting tested. You cannot be part of this good news sweeping across the world when you do not know your HIV status. If you feel that you are at risk of contracting HIV, go ahead and test for it, and if you have the virus then you can start your treatment right away.


Is it expensive?

In most settings in Ireland the test and treatment for HIV are free, so go for it.


When to test

Usually, HIV can be detected in the body at various stages but the surest detection from tests is at about 12 weeks after infection. There are various HIV tests available here in Ireland but the Rapid HIV Antibody 1/HIV Antibody 11 tests gives result in one minute, it is that quick. You do not have to wait agonisingly for days to find out.


Where to test

There are many established community HIV testing centres and clinics In Ireland such as The Guide Clinic at St James’ Hospital in Dublin. You can also contact ACET Ireland on 01 878 7700 or visit www.acet.ie/testing for directions to the nearest HIV testing centre of your choice.

Take your medication

It is not enough though just to get tested without starting treatment if you are HIV-positive, because it is only with proper treatment that your HIV infection can be reduced to the U=U level. Your life is important — test for peace of mind, test for access to treatment, to live well and live healthily.


The last word

In Africa, the scourge that is HIV is changing because of U=U. The evidence shows that people living with HIV can live healthy lives, cannot pass on their infection to their sexual partners and can have children without passing on their HIV to them when they regularly and correctly take their HIV medication as prescribed by their doctors.


This is a huge motivation to test for HIV, particularly for black immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa living in Ireland who, as reports show, too often shy away from testing (see HIV in Ireland Annual Report 2017, Health Protection Surveillance Centre). No one should allow the fear of what other people will say to rob them of their life. Get tested, get U=U, and your life will be your own to live.

TAGS : HIV Africa test medication U=U
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