Updates on Viral Load & Transmission

November 2, 2023

WHO Policy Brief

In July of 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) shared important updates on HIV viral suppression and HIV transmission. Here's some background information.

WHO's update revolves around 3 categories of HIV viral load.

  1. Unsuppressed: When our viral load is unsuppressed, we have more than 1,000 copies of HIV virus in one millilitre of blood. 
  2. Suppressed: When our viral load is suppressed, the HIV virus is present but at a much lower level, with less than 1,000 copies in one millilitre of blood.
  3. Undetectable: When our viral load is undetectable, it means that the amount of HIV virus in our blood is so minimal that it cannot be found by the tests currently used.

WHO has shared that those of us living with HIV who have an undetectable viral load using a WHO-approved test and take our HIV medication as directed have "zero" chances of passing HIV to our sexual partners. That means we can update our U=U (Undetectable equals Untransmittable) campaigns to U=U=0 (Undetectable equals Untransmittable equals Zero)!

Those of us who have a suppressed load and take our HIV medications as directed have "almost zero or negligible" chances of passing HIV to our sexual partners. 

At YouthCO, we're excited about this update for a few reasons! We can use this information to challenge HIV stigma in our communities. We might also consider this information when managing our HIV care and planning our treatment goals. 

This update also highlights the importance of access to testing, medication, and education as we work toward improving HIV care and dismantling HIV stigma. 

We can read more about this update here!