Frequently Asked Questions

Why is taking HIV medication so important?

It's not a cure, but HIV medication stops the virus from harming your immune system and makes it so you can’t transmit it through sex. With effective treatment, people living with HIV can enjoy long, healthy lives.

What is an HIV viral load?

Your viral load is the amount of virus in your blood as determined by a laboratory test.

How does HIV become undetectable?

HIV medication decreases the amount of HIV in your blood (or your viral load) to the point that it can’t be detected.

How long does it take for someone to become undetectable?

1-3 months is average, but it can take up to 6 months.

What is U=U?

U=U means Undetectable = Untransmittable. Someone who takes HIV medication as prescribed and gets to undetectable has no risk of sexually transmitting HIV. U=U applies to sexual transmission, not breast feeding or needle sharing.

Does everyone who is living with HIV benefit from the medication?

Yes, medication protects your health and prevents the virus from being transmitted to others. Some people may be drug resistant. Fortunately, there are many medications that will help you become undetectable.

Does U=U work no matter what type of sex you have?

Yes. Whether you have oral, vaginal, or anal sex, being undetectable means you will not transmit HIV.

If my HIV is undetectable and my partner is HIV negative, should we still use condoms?

Condoms and/or PrEP may help your partner feel safer. Condom use is still recommended to prevent pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis etc.

Should my doctor know about U=U?

Yes. Your doctor should know about HIV treatment and prevention, including U=U. If you need help finding a doctor, visit the Washington State Department of Health Early Intervention Program Provider Map.

What if I forget to take my meds one day?

The success of U=U depends on taking meds as prescribed. If you miss a dose, follow the instructions with your medication. Missing doses or not taking the medication regularly can cause your viral load to increase, putting your health in jeopardy and increasing the risk of transmitting the virus.