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Why we’re saying yes to #SayZero

Yael Azgad and Tinashe Madamombe

21 November 2023

We’ve just published an infographic series in support of the #SayZero campaign to help spread the good news about effective HIV treatment

At this year’s International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science held in Brisbane, Australia, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a policy brief confirming that people living with HIV who take antiretroviral treatment (ART) as prescribed and have an undetectable viral load cannot pass on HIV through sex. This is known as Undetectable Equals Untransmittable (U=U). Though we've known that U=U for a while now this policy helps underline the importance of getting this message out as widely as possible.

What does the brief say?

The WHO policy brief states that people living with HIV who take their medication as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have zero risk of passing HIV on to their sexual partners or children. Additionally, people living with HIV who have a suppressed but detectable viral load have almost zero risk of passing on HIV to their sexual partners. The risk of passing HIV on during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding if you have a suppressed but detectable viral load can be less than 1%.

Why is the #SayZero campaign important?

Using the words “zero” and “zero risk” is a powerful way to shift people’s understanding of what effective HIV treatment can achieve and helps to strengthen the U=U messaging. This is important for a number of reasons.

On an individual level promoting #SayZero helps to give people with HIV hope and can help motivate them overcome challenges of treatment adherence. The knowledge that you can live full and healthy lives is a powerful motivator for anybody! Understanding your individual risk of transmission and effective prevention options – including treatment adherence – can help people living with HIV feel more confident and comfortable in their relationships and encourage informed conversations about safer sex.

On a community and society level #SayZero supports wider understanding of U=U and so helps reduce stigma and discrimination which are fueled by misinformation and fear. This not only improves the lives of people with HIV, it also means more people are encouraged to get tested for HIV. The more of us that get tested regularly, the more people that can start treatment early to protect their health and reduce new infections.

Spread the word!

We've published new infographics to help spread the word about #UequalsU and #SayZero.

The infographic series promotes the key messages of the WHO brief in a clear and easy to understand way. The infographics are available for anyone to download below and share via social media and messaging services. So we can all share and celebrate the power of effective HIV treatment.

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