Birmingham, AL—December 15, 2017 The Jefferson County Board of Health passed a resolution during its December meeting to support the Undetectable equals Untransmittable or “U=U” Campaign that has been endorsed by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What is U=U?
The CDC endorses the “U=U” message stating there’s now evidence-based confirmation that the risk of HIV transmission from a person living with HIV (PLHIV), who is on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) and has achieved an undetectable viral load in his/her blood for at least 6 months has effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner. Moreover, when the partner with HIV has an undetectable viral load, this both protects his/her own health, and prevents new HIV infections. Scientific advances have shown that antiretroviral therapy (ART) preserves the health of people living with HIV.
Reduce HIV Stigma
Getting the “U=U” message out is important to encourage PLHIV to initiate and adhere to a successful treatment regimen. Understanding that successful ART prevents transmission can help reduce HIV-related stigma and provide invaluable insight to the community on HIV information and issues.
“From a public health standpoint, endorsing the U=U campaign just makes sense. This is science proving once again that stigma has no place when it comes to HIV. Without stigma, persons are more likely to seek out and accept the treatment that prevents them from transmitting HIV to others and allows them to be healthy enough to live the life they were meant to have,” says Lori McManus, Disease Intervention Program Manager, Jefferson County Department of Health.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s (ADPH) 2016 Annual Report, an estimated 16,000 people are living in Alabama with HIV. The HIV epidemic affects persons in all gender, age, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and in every county in Alabama. However, the effect has not been the same for all groups. Currently, 72% of newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases in Alabama are among African Americans.
The CDC’s 2016 Surveillance Report states that in 2016, the southern states accounted for more than half of the new HIV infections in the United States. “It is truly remarkable how far things have come in HIV care. Just three decades ago HIV infection was a death sentence. Now it is possible for people with HIV who are on sustained, effective treatment to live long, healthy lives, and not have to worry about spreading HIV infection to others through sexual activity,” added Wilson.