Someone diagnosed with HIV today and treated effectively can live as long as someone who does not have HIV, cannot pass on the virus and will not develop AIDS-related conditions.
• When taken as prescribed, antiretroviral therapy medications can reduce a person’s viral load (which is the amount of HIV in their blood) to an undetectable level. If it stays undetectable, they can live long, healthy lives and have effectively no risk of transmitting to a partner without HIV. This is known as the “U=U Consensus”.
• If someone has an undetectable viral load, it does not mean they are cured of HIV. If they stop taking HIV treatment, their viral load will increase and become detectable again.
• For people receiving effective treatment, stigma and discrimination are often more harmful and challenging than the virus itself.
• HIV is only spread through blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, or breast milk.
• You cannot contract HIV through saliva, tears, mosquitos, air, or sweat that is not mixed with blood containing HIV. Hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilets or dishes, or touching someone who is living with HIV is also completely safe.
• You can protect yourself from HIV by using condoms and other barrier methods during sex, understanding U=U, and using preventative medications like PReP and PeP.
• People who inject drugs, hormones, steroids, or silicone should use sterile needles and injecting equipment each time they inject and never share them to reduce their risk of contracting HIV.