US, Canada announce formal support of U = U campaign

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The United States and Canada have formally announced their support of the Undetectable = Untransmittable, or U=U, campaign.

The Prevention Access Campaign launched the U=U campaign in 2016 to communicate the consensus that people living with HIV who are on treatment and have an undetectable viral load cannot sexually transmit HIV.

Prevention Access Campaign.

Harold Phillips, director of The White House Office of National AIDS Policy, announced the U.S.’s support. Canada’s support was announced by Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam, FRCPC,

“U=U is a transformative message for people living with, and affected by, HIV,” Canadian Chief Public Health Officer Tam said in a press release. “The evidence behind U=U holds tremendous power to reduce the stigma that can prevent people from getting tested and freely accessing the treatment and support they need.”

In a 2018 Healio editorial, experts said the U=U initiative “issued a consensus statement on the science of” treatment as prevention “with the goal of broadening awareness of this historic development.”

“The power of U = U is that it is a simple, clear statement free of nuance or caveats, specific to prevention of sexual transmission: When a patient’s plasma viral load is durably suppressed, they will not sexually transmit HIV to their partners,” they wrote.

After formally announcing their support, U.S. and Canadian officials called all nations to support the campaign to accelerate progress toward national and global goals to end the HIV epidemic.

According to the press release, officials hope that as more countries incorporate U=U education into programs and policies, it will optimize the impact U=U has on prevention, care and treatment outcomes.

“We know that U=U knowledge decreases stigma, improves mental health, and leads to better health outcomes,” Deondre B. Moore, the Prevention Access Campaign’s director of U.S. partnerships and community engagement, said in a press release.

Moore said too many people do not have access to the U=U message or the care and services to make U=U possible.

“We believe this national and global support is a step in changing that,” Moore said. “We can’t fully celebrate U=U until it is a reality for all, not just the privileged.”

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