People living with HIV have faced, and continue to face, stigma and discrimination because of misperceptions about HIV. In 2016, a group of people living with HIV worked with medical experts to combat these misperceptions. The group’s work culminated in the U=U Consensus Statement and the launch of Undetectable=Untransmittable, or U=U, a public movement and worldwide campaign to promote understanding HIV and reduce fears associated with it.
Globally endorsed by researchers and medical professionals, the statement explains scientific findings confirming that people living with HIV, who are on antiretroviral therapy (ART), take their medications as prescribed, and have achieved an undetectable viral load in their blood, have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their partners. Therefore, undetectable=untransmittable.
Much of the current stigma surrounding HIV stems from fears associated with the start of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. In the nearly four decades since, communications to people living with HIV and to the wider public have done little to lessen those fears. That is why it’s so important that the U=U message be championed and shared at the international and local level.
Spokane Regional Health District officially joined the U=U campaign in October 2018 to demonstrate continued support for persons living with HIV in Spokane County (see news release). Spokane Regional Health District's HIV/AIDS Case Management program, and the HIV/AIDS Advisory Board (HAAB), are dedicated to helping people living with HIV and their families. Case Managers help clients gain and maintain medical care and treatment. Services include linking clients to insurance, primary care physicians, mental healthcare, housing, food and medical transportation resources.