Undetectable equals Untransmittable
A person living with HIV who, has an undetectable viral load, cannot transmit the virus to their sexual partners. To discuss this significant advance in science and its impact, James Watson talks to two people passionate about the topic and the messaging, Laurie Edmiston, the Executive Director of the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE), and Adrian Betts, an HIV-positive activist and the Executive Director of an AIDS service organization in Ontario.
Our episode guests
Executive Director, Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE)
Laurie has worked in the field of HIV, harm reduction and health promotion for more than 30 years, and started Toronto’s first needle exchange program at YouthLink Inner City. Laurie previously served as Executive Director of the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation (PWA).
And we need to be shouting it from the rooftops! We need to really help other service providers, clinicians, as well as people living with HIV and their sexual partners, know this information and be comfortable with this information because it truly is ground-breaking.
Executive Director, AIDS Committee of Durham Region (ACDR)
A gay man and long-term survivor, Adrian began working in the HIV/AIDS sector in 1989 at various HIV service organizations and other social justice services. He is a leader on HIV-positive youth and transition issues and facilitated the creation of the Transition Accord for young PHAs transitioning from pediatric to adult HIV care.
If you don't use condoms, you are at risk for other other diseases. But we're not talking about that, we're talking about HIV. And we're talking about making sure that the science is accurate and that if you're undetectable, then you cannot pass HIV. That's the key here. That's the message. And that's wonderful.
Laurie has worked in the field of HIV, harm reduction and health promotion for more than 30 years, and started Toronto’s first needle exchange program at YouthLink Inner City. She is now the Executive Director of Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE).
Laurie talks about the impact of U=U, or Undetectable=Untransmittable, and points out how important it is for people living with HIV, service providers and other agencies to hear and pass on the message.
Laurie mentions that at first, some organisations were a little skeptical of the statement and the science, but soon followed suit after it was endorsed by national agencies like CATIE and the Government of Canada.
It’s important, she says, to keep promoting the science and messaging until all service providers, clinicians, and people living with HIV and their sexual partners know and understand the information and are comfortable with it “because it is truly ground breaking.”
Host James Watson is later joined on the show by Adrian Betts, a gay man and long-term survivor, who has been working in the HIV/AIDS sector in 1989. He is currently the Executive Director of the AIDS Committee of Durham Region and is considered a leader in HIV-positive youth and transition issues—having facilitated the creation of the Youth Accord for young people living with HIV transitioning from pediatric to adult HIV care.
Adrian perceives the U=U message as an important component in the fight against HIV stigma, as it shines a light on the real issue, which is reaching the undiagnosed and people not yet on treatment. He adds that U=U might be particularly useful in keeping youth on HIV medication.
A lot of great resources and more information on U=U can be found on the CATIE website.