A viral load test shows how much HIV there is in a small sample of blood. The lower the amount the better. The aim of HIV treatment is to reduce viral load to a level which is too low to be measured by standard tests. This is called an ‘undetectable’ viral load. This means HIV is still present in your body, but at a low level.

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  • Here’s why you test positive for HIV if you’re undetectable

    Why might people living with HIV get tested for HIV? Now that we know undetectable equals untransmittable (U=U), some people may have the misconception that if you’re undetectable, you will no longer test positive for HIV. They may think that if they test HIV-negative on an HIV test, they’ll be able to show this to their sex partners as a way to “prove” that they’re undetectable and untransmittable. Or, they may think it will be easier to tell partners they’re HIV-negative rather than undetectable and uninfectious.

    11 June 2019 | San Francisco AIDS Foundation
  • Abbott gets WHO prequalification for point-of-care HIV test

    The World Health Organization has granted prequalification to Abbot's point-of-care test of HIV viral load. WHO's action confirms the diagnostic, m-PIMA HIV-1/2 VL, meets its quality, safety and efficacy standards, potentially giving ministries of health and other funders the confidence to buy the test. Abbott said the diagnostic can expand access to viral load testing in resource-limited settings and, by extension, improve management of HIV.

    12 May 2019 | Med Tech Drive
  • Q&A: Understanding persistent low-level viremia in people with HIV

    Persistent low-level viremia among people living with HIV who are adhering to treatment is a challenging issue for clinicians, and there is not much guidance available.

    19 March 2019 | Healio
  • More than 1 year to HIV control raises failure risk almost 10-fold

    Failure to reach an undetectable viral load in the first year of antiretroviral therapy (ART) led to nearly a 10-fold higher risk of subsequent virologic failure in a 17,000-person North American analysis [1]. Taking more than 1 year to control HIV did not confer a higher risk of low-level viremia or viral blips in this 6-year study.

    15 March 2019 | NATAP
  • Detectable HIV Despite Treatment? Clonal Expansion Could Be The Culprit

    In a study of people with a low but detectable viral load despite adherence to treatment, infected cells were apparently cloning themselves.

    14 March 2019 | Poz
  • When Undetectable Is Unachievable: Study Offers Insights into HIV Persistence

    Rarely, people living with HIV are unable to maintain an undetectable viral load despite strict adherence to daily ART. New NIAID-funded research suggests that this sometimes can occur when a single cell from the HIV reservoir—the population of long-lived HIV-infected cells that ART cannot eradicate—multiplies to create many identical cells that produce enough virus to be detected by standard viral load tests.

    11 March 2019 | National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
  • Viral load monitoring motivates HIV treatment adherence in eSwatini

    The treat-all policy will only succeed if people keep taking their HIV treatment. It is important to motivate people who started treatment while they were still feeling well. 

    24 February 2019 | AVERT
  • For Our Stable HIV Patients, Why Are We Still Sending All These Lab Tests So Often?

    Do the guidelines for laboratory monitoring still make sense when our HIV treatments have become so safe and effective?

    29 January 2019 | NEJM Journal Watch
  • Uganda: Financial incentives do not boost HIV viral suppression rate

    Financial incentives had no effect on viral suppression among HIV-positive adults in Uganda, according to a recent study. Researchers said these findings suggest a need for better interventions to promote the achievement of viral suppression.

    25 January 2019 | Healio
  • How do we define “undetectable” in HIV prevention?

    In real life, whether your viral load is 50, 100, or 200 copies may not matter as much as how long your virus has been suppressed.

    23 January 2019 | BETA blog
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Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.