U=U: A guide for service providers

 

Recommendations for service providers

As individuals and organizations who are directly supporting  people  who live with or face risk factors for HIV, we are uniquely placed to bridge the gap between the science and community engagement on U=U.

As healthcare and service providers we are probably the first professionals to whom a newly diagnosed person will turn for advice about their new health status. It is essential that we integrate the language and knowledge associated with U=U into our practice and ensure that those who access our services understand what U=U means. Given the understandable fear, concern, and anxiety an individual may experience at the time of their diagnosis, the message of U=U will play an important role in affecting the person’s sense of well-being and helping to set their expectations about what the future holds.

It is our responsibility to ensure not only that the U=U message is heard and understood but also that everyone who needs it has access to HIV testing, treatment, care, and support so that they can be helped to achieve an undetectable viral load.

U=U is, however, a message that comes with complexities. We must nurture and guide conversations about it without withholding information because of a fear that certain individuals or communities may not fully understand it or may misinterpret it, or because we believe they may have more important things to think about.1 It is our job to communicate and facilitate engagement in this new landscape.

Therefore, we must embrace the science of U=U and celebrate the fact that people who have an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV to their sexual partners.

  1. McCullagh J. No more excuses: people have the right to know about U=U [CATIE blog]. Toronto: CATIE; 2018. Available from: http://blog.catie.ca/2018/10/31/no-more-excuses-people-have-the-right-to-know-about-uu/ [accessed June 20, 2019].