#UequalsU: The New Partnership To Dismantle HIV Stigma
The International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC) and the Prevention Access Campaign have announced a partnership to educate clinicians and allied health professionals about the Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U, UequalsU) message. The partnership’s objective is to destigmatize HIV by promoting the scientific evidence that people living with HIV who are on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and have an undetectable viral load are incapable of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners.
“We believe everyone living with HIV has a right to accurate and meaningful information about their social, sexual, and reproductive health based on science not stigma. Ending the HIV epidemic requires bold new approaches to dismantle HIV stigma, improve health outcomes, and prevent transmissions,” said Mr. Bruce Richman, Executive Director of the Prevention Access Campaign. “Our partnership with IAPAC represents an important step forward to ensure that clinicians and allied health professionals convey accurate information about U=U, notably that people living with HIV who take ART as prescribed and achieve an undetectable viral load do not sexually transmit HIV.”
The partnership’s initial collaboration will focus on delivering U=U education to clinicians and allied health professionals in high HIV burden cities around the world, including Bangkok, Thailand; Birmingham, AL, USA; Johannesburg, South Africa; New York City, NY, USA; Paris, France; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and San Francisco, CA, USA. These cities belong to a network of Fast-Track Cities that have pledged to attain the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 targets by 2020. The targets translate into 90% of people living with HIV knowing their status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV receiving sustained ART, and 90% of all people receiving ART achieving viral suppression.
“IAPAC is proud to partner with the Prevention Access Campaign to ensure that the game-changing U=U message is understood by clinicians and allied health professionals and integrated into clinical practice in specialized and primary care settings to generate increased demand for HIV testing, care, and treatment,” said Dr. José M. Zuniga, IAPAC’s President/CEO. “More importantly, from a human rights perspective, we have an obligation to eliminate the stigma associated with thinking about or dealing with people living with HIV as vectors of disease. Clinicians and allied health professionals must play a role in eliminating stigma wherever it exists, but particularly in health settings.”
Richman and Zuniga stressed that the partnership will expand beyond this initial educational collaboration to include other U=U-themed activities in more than 250 cities that have signed the Paris Declaration on Fast-Track Cities Ending the AIDS Epidemic.