HIV Treatment as Prevention - Minnesota Dept. of Health

HIV Treatment as Prevention

On this page:
Sexual HIV transmission
Perinatal HIV transmission
Injection drug use HIV transmission
Other HIV prevention methods

HIV treatment allows people living with HIV to live longer, healthier lives, and it can also help prevent HIV transmission.

Sexual HIV transmission

When taken as prescribed, HIV medications can decrease the amount of HIV present in blood to be too low to measure. This is called being undetectable.

A person living with HIV who gets and stays undetectable has effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to sexual partners.

This can be described as Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U). U=U only applies to sexual transmission of HIV.

How it works

  1. Get undetectable. This can take up to 6 months after starting HIV medication. Your health care provider will perform blood tests and let you know when you’re undetectable.

  2. Stay undetectable. Take your HIV medications daily as prescribed and visit your health care provider regularly. They will continue to monitor your blood tests to make sure you’re still undetectable.

Perinatal (mother-to-child) HIV transmission

All pregnant people should be tested for HIV during pregnancy. Perinatal transmission of HIV can almost always be prevented with proper medical care:

  • HIV medication are taken as prescribed during pregnancy, labor and delivery

  • The infant is not breastfed

  • The infant receives HIV medications after birth

For more information:

Injection drug use HIV transmission

There are not enough studies to tell us how HIV treatment or being undetectable prevents HIV transmission from sharing syringes, but it is reasonable to assume that being undetectable can offer some risk reduction.

People who inject drugs or others substances should use a sterile syringe and equipment each time to prevent HIV transmission.

For more information:

Other HIV prevention methods

There are many methods to prevent HIV. Depending on your circumstances, you may choose to use one or combine different methods .

  • Pre-Exposure Prophlyaxis (PrEP)
    PrEP is a daily pill that can prevent HIV infection.

  • Getting Tested for HIV
    Everyone aged 13–64 should be tested for HIV at least once. If you do not know the HIV status of your sex partners or you share injection equipment you should be tested for HIV at least yearly.

  • Condoms
    Use condoms consistently and correctly during vaginal or anal sex. Condoms are the only HIV prevention method that also protect against other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy.

Updated Monday, 23-Oct-2017 07:31:03 CDT