Is the Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) campaign putting HIV negative men at risk?

By | 19th December 2017

You will no doubt have read the latest campaign that simply states gay men who have HIV but have an undetectable viral load “cannot pass it on” and it is untransmittable if they have sex with a HIV negative partner. The gay (ill) health organisations deal in absolutes, is this definitive statement putting HIV negative men at risk with a false sense of security that they can have unprotected sex with poz guys? We think so.

The U=U is based on the conclusion of the finding of a survey called the PARTNER study. However to state it is 100% untransmittable in no uncertain terms is not entirely true. The 888 couples surveyed included two thirds heterosexual (1184) and one third gay (592), so is it fair to make this statement to the gay community on such a small sample of 296 HIV positive gay men? It astounding that they have made this conclusion especially with over 83,000 HIV positive gay men in the UK.

Secondly the survey (remember this isn’t science as they claim) only followed the couples for a single year, 12 months that’s it! Health can change over time, especially with age. What is the age range of these HIV positive gay men that they surveyed?

The conclusion is made that possible transmission of HIV is “very low” at about 0.7% per year. That doesn’t sound like great odds to persuade us here at GMAP that going bareback with a HIV positive partner is a good idea. The report recommends condoms still should be used.

However the gay (ill) health charities are in full promotion of having “condomless” sex between gay men of mixed status whether in a relationship or not for a “fulfilling” sex life. That treatment as prevention (TaSP) is 100% effective and no condom is required. That in the very least is extremely misleading on such a limited number of participants in a survey and a small timescale.

Shouldn’t undetectable be about making someone who is HIV positive feel better about their treatment being successful rather than a green light to bareback? We believe this PC ideology is putting HIV negative men at risk and condoms should be used consistently.


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