Undetectable = Untransmittable: What does it all mean?

What treatment as prevention means for people living with HIV and their partners

With celebrities talking about  “U=U” we ask ourselves – What does it mean?

“U=U” is an easy way to remember that undetectable is untransmittable. That means if you are a person living with HIV and your viral load is undetectable, that there is no risk of transmitting HIV to someone who is HIV negative. “Undetectable” describes when the copies of HIV in a person’s blood is so low that it does not show up on a lab test. The test measures a person’s “viral load.” “Untransmittable” means that a person living with HIV has virtually no chance of transmitting the HIV virus to someone else through sexual contact.

Generally, antiretroviral HIV medications can, when taken as directed by a healthcare provider, decrease a person’s viral load. Over time, a person’s viral load can become undetectable. A person living with HIV needs to be undetectable for six months, with two undetectable viral load tests within this time, before their HIV is considered untransmittable.

It’s important that a person who has an undetectable viral load continue to take their medications as prescribed to remain undetectable. You can learn more about U=U and get screened for HIV/ STIs at one of Howard Brown Health’s Sexual & Reproductive Health Walk-In Clinics near you.

Find a location near you at howardbrown.org/walk-in


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
This site is not optimized for Internet Explorer. Please consider viewing the site in a modern browser such as Edge, Chrome or Firefox.