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Antiviral Therapy

Question: 

Hi there,
I was wondering something about ART. If someone has been taking it for over 2 years now and is doing well and healthy, is their viral load most likely undetectable. I am just wondering if my family member is undetectable, but it is not something we regularly talk about.

Thank you.

Answer: 

Hello,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about whether someone who has been taking combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) for over 2 years would have an undetectable viral load or not. Engaging in casual contact with an individual who is HIV positive (whether they are accessing cART or not) is considered to be No Risk (transmission of HIV is not possible in the given scenario).

The scenario mentioned above does not meet the three components of the Transmission Equation because HIV is not transmitted through casual contact with an HIV positive person (1). Additionally, HIV treatments are extremely effective at controlling viral replication in the body, thus allowing someone who is HIV positive the ability to live a normal life. If cART is consistently and correctly used a detectable viral load can become undetectable, and thus untransmittable (U=U), within three to six months (2). Consistent and correct use of effective cART can ensure that the viral load will remain undetectable.

Recommendation: Regardless of whether or not your family member living with HIV is undetectable or not, HIV transmission through casual contact is not possible. No need for HIV test with the scenario provided, refer to a physician for other health related questions.

Regards,

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Marie