The AIDS ACCESS Foundation informed the public to allay concerns after a Thai woman who has been living with the HIV virus since birth told the public that since her heartbreak, she had been engaging in risky behaviors, including alcohol consumption and frequent one-night stands, for the past 7 months, starting in April.
Despite her HIV status, she continues to take her medication regularly. Recently, however, she has urged her sexual partners to get tested.
The foundation clarified that this case may not be as serious as it sounds, as the woman has been consistently taking HIV medication. If an individual has sex while on effective HIV treatment, there is minimal to no risk of transmitting the virus.
Nimit Tienudom, an advisor to the foundation, explained that if a person is on continuous treatment, their viral load is undetectable (meaning the virus is nearly absent from their bloodstream, with less than 50 copies per 1 ml of blood).
The foundation has been trying to spread information that “Undetectable = Untransmittable” or U = U. In this case, having sex with such an individual does not result in transmission of the virus.
“From a legal standpoint, there is no basis for criminal charges in this situation. The notion that alcohol consumption can render the virus resistant to medication is not accurate because alcohol does not affect the virus or the efficacy of antiretroviral drugs,” said Nimit.
The foundation emphasized the importance of getting tested and promoted the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for those at risk of HIV infection. Continuous treatment with HIV medication can result in an undetectable viral load, allowing those affected to lead a normal life similar to that of people without the virus, with no risk of transmission, especially when combined with condom use.