Health News: In 2017, leading global health bodies confirmed that when it comes to HIV, Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U).
This means that if a person has an undetectable viral load (linked to adherence to their medication) then sexual transmission of HIV is impossible, even if a condom is not used.
In education and training sessions, the enormity of U=U is starting to hit home. How we communicate risk and perceived risk to a group has radically changed. Those living with HIV are no longer, necessarily, the focus of attention. When it comes to transmission risk our energies have shifted to those who are unaware of their status as opposed to those who are aware and taking control of their health. This redefining and refocussing is exciting and opens up a new chapter in approaching the end of the pandemic.
Yet, I have been reflecting on why it takes a medical advance and the concrete realities of transmission for us to be enthused in affirming the positive status of those living with HIV in our midst. In the Bible it says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” People living with HIV have always carried a dignity and identity as image bearers of God. Treatment advances do not necessitate that truth from being real. It was always there and it has always called us to live in resistance to the stigma that so many encounter.
Image: Prevention Access Campaign