The National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) released its own statement regarding the risk of sexual transmission of HIV from people who are virally suppressed.
The statement affirms that “durably virally suppressed people living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy do not sexually transmit the virus.” It describes virally suppressed as “having a consistent viral load of less than < 200 copies/ml.”
In its statement, NASTAD says it and its members “will widely share this new scientific understanding of the risk of sexual transmission of HIV from virally suppressed people living with HIV to both promote optimal health outcomes and reduce stigma. We will continue to support efforts to examine and support evidence-based public health policies, approaches and resources to promote and reduce barriers to HIV prevention and care. NASTAD members will also continue to emphasize the importance of providing comprehensive prevention and care services for people living with HIV to improve their quality of life and reduce risk of transmission to others. In conjunction with new and existing partners, our members also pledge to:
- Promote public education and an evidence-based understanding of HIV transmission risk
- Use this information to provide unequivocal public health leadership on decriminalizing HIV status
- Promote comprehensive care services for individuals living with HIV and work to achieve viral suppression among all people living with HIV
- Promote comprehensive prevention services for individuals at high-risk for HIV acquisition.
“The science is clear that people living with HIV with a sustained undetectable viral load do not transmit the virus to others. What’s also clear is that we have the tools to end the HIV epidemic and HIV-related stigma and make new infections a thing of the past. Today, we tackle a major part of this work by raising awareness about the latest science of HIV transmission risk,” said NASTAD executive director Murray Penner in a press release about the statement.
“Until now, there hasn’t been anyone ensuring this life-changing information is communicated clearly and meaningfully to people living with HIV,” added Bruce Richman, executive director of Prevention Access Campaign and the Undetectable = Untransmittable Initiative. “NASTAD was the first nonprofit to endorse the Prevention Access Campaign’s Consensus Statement last year, representing a bold step toward sharing a message that will improve the social, sexual and reproductive lives of millions of people living with HIV in the U.S. and around the world.”
NASTAD endorsed PAC’s statement last fall. That statement declares that people with HIV who are taking meds and have maintained an undetectable viral load for at least six months have a “negligible to non-existent” risk of transmitting the virus sexually. It defines negligible as being “so small or unimportant as to be not worth considering; insignificant.”
For related POZ articles, click #Undetectable or read “Does Undetectable Mean Uninfectious? The Challenge of Explaining HIV Study Results.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated.