Statement on U=U by Y+ Board

20 Nov 2019

Statement by Y+ Board on U=U on 24th October 2019

Being able to share the news that people on effective treatment cannot pass HIV on sexually is a powerful message! U=U (and the country/regional level equivalent campaigns) is one that  endorse and celebrate.

We welcome that the increase in youth-led networks that are sharing this message within their constituency. U=U is a message that all YPLHIV (and any PLHIV) should be able to use as a tool of self-empowerment and negotiating sexual relationships, but we recognise that it is not a message that all can use presently.

We recognise that there are some who have access to the U=U message (through social media), but do not have access to the tools and/treatment to become and/or know that they are undetectable.

We must do all that we can to ensure that the U=U message is one that all PLHIV can use. To achieve equity in the use of this message, the following is required:

All young people living with HIV must:

  • Have access to free HIV test;
  • Have access to quality and free treatment and services (e.g. drugs that are within date, ARVs with limited/no side effects);
  • Have treatment choice (and integrated inhibitors); 
  • Have access to viral load testing equipment;
  • Affordability of results;
  • Have access to youth friendly services that have clear and appropriate transition support into adult care;

It is critical that country and state laws, policies and legislations enable the above to be achieved, so that all YPLHIV are able to achieve and sustain a quality of life that enables them to manage their HIV.

Being undetectable is a privilege and made possible through laws, legislation and policies and support and enable access to HIV testing, treatment, services and a standard of life.  

Furthermore we cannot accept governments that take out human rights, health and education of their priorities. It is a duty to provide ways and improve quality of life so that people can go above and beyond.

Becoming (and remaining) undetectable is first and foremost about a person’s health. Not transmitting the virus sexually is an important, but secondary result. The burden of reducing transmission rates should not be solely placed on a person living with HIV, all people should have access to robust sexual health and reproductive health that enables them to make informed decisions about their sexuality and sexual expression.

We understand that transmitting HIV is a concern of some YPLHIV, so being undetectable is powerful, empowering and something to celebrate. Sexual health is not just about thinking about our sexual partner(s), it is also about prioritising our sexual health, so Y+ still champions condom uses (regardless of detectability status) if sexual partners health status is unknown.

Regardless of detectability status, all PLHIV are deserving and have a right to healthy, respectful, fun and pleasurable sexual relationships (if they so choose to be in sexual relationships).