People living with HIV who are on antiretroviral therapy and maintain an undetectable viral load for at least six months do not sexually transmit HIV.
When someone acquires HIV for the first time, the virus quickly replicates in their body. During this stage, their viral load is high, and it is very easy for the virus to be transmitted to sexual partners, especially through unprotected anal sex. Many new HIV infections occur when someone lives with HIV and does not know it. As time goes by, your viral load decreases and the use of HIV medications can generally reduce your viral load to undetectable levels.
New research shows that starting treatment as soon as possible can make it easier for people living with HIV to get an undetectable viral load before and live longer and healthier lives.
Being undetectable does not mean healing; So far, there is still no cure for HIV. But it does mean that a person living with HIV will have more health benefits, including the inability to transmit HIV through sex without a condom.
For some people, it may take a while to take their viral load to an undetectable level, and some people may not be able to get there despite adhering to medications. It is important that people living with HIV do not feel pressured or are expected to have an undetectable viral load.
Having an undetectable viral load does not provide protection against other STIs such as syphilis, gonorrhea, LGV or hepatitis C.
The use of condoms and lubricants for anal and vaginal sex is an effective barrier against sexual transmission for both HIV and most other STIs.