Being world experts in HIV self-testing we are asked questions all the time. Given as it is World Breastfeeding Week and we are passionate and dedicated to education and myth-busting about HIV and AIDS we thought it might be helpful to answer a few here in this blog.
Being HIV positive and having a HIV negative baby
With the improvements in medicine (anti-retroviral treatments / ARTs) if one partner is HIV negative and one is HIV positive (serodiscordant couple) or you are both HIV positive, you can live healthy sexual and reproductive lives, as long as meds are being taken regularly and viral suppression has occurred. If you would like to start or add to your family you can have regular (or not so regular!) sex to conceive a baby without the fear of transmission. As long as your levels of virus in your blood are undetectable! U=U (Undetectable equals Untransmittable).
How long does it take to get an undetectable viral load?
To get an undetectable viral load is usually quite straightforward, especially if you are diagnosed early (within the first two years). Sometimes you only need to take one tablet a day and it normally takes around 6 months of regularly taking ART’s to achieve it, but it can be quicker. Then once you have achieved viral suppression, you just have to continue taking your ARTs every day, at the correct time to stay ‘undetectable’. Obviously it’s important to stay engaged with healthcare so your viral levels can be monitored, but viral suppression means your own health is protected and amazingly, you can’t pass HIV on. Early diagnosis is important because the earlier you are diagnosed the earlier you can start treatment. This can only happen IF you test and know your status.
How do antiretroviral Treatments work?
Antiretroviral Treatments, or ARTs, stop the virus from reproducing and that means your immune system can repair itself and isn’t damaged further, then it can cope. It is proven that you cannot pass the virus on and that you can live an active and healthy life and have a normal life expectancy. You can also have sex and conceive children without passing the virus on. How fantastic is that!
Can you have unprotected sex with your partner if you are HIV positive?
Yes! IF you test and know your status and take anti-retroviral treatment correctly then you can supress your viral load to an undetectable level (also known as viral suppression). So, if you're on treatment, take your medications as prescribed and have an undetectable viral load you cannot pass HIV on to them, even if no condoms are used. #can'tpassiton
Can you breastfeed if you’re HIV positive and have an undetectable viral load?
If you’re a person living with HIV and you have an undetectable viral load and take your anti-retroviral treatment correctly then you can virtually eliminate the risk of passing the virus on to your baby through breastfeeding.
It is always advisable to attend antenatal appointments and consult a medical professional for medical advice to keep you and your baby healthy.
If you’re not trying to conceive a child it’s important to still use condoms as they not only help prevent pregnancy but other STIs too.
BioSure is a U=U partner (U=U (Undetectable equals Untransmittable) and our team are genuinely passionate about supporting the U=U campaign and the global plan to eradicate HIV/AIDS by 2030 through helping people to find out their HIV status on their own terms. https://hivselftest.co.uk/