We've collaborated with the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and comedian Tom Sainsbury to raise awareness of what an undetectable viral load is. The video is part of a greater campaign launched in New Zealand to communicate the message that people living with HIV, who maintain an undetectable viral load lead a better quality of life. Another great benefit is that if an undetectable viral load can be maintained for 6 months, HIV is not transmitted to sexual partners – even if condoms aren’t being used.
“We’re unequivocally telling New Zealanders that if someone living with HIV has had an undetectable viral load for more than six months, HIV does not transmit through sex – even if condoms aren’t being used,’ says Michael Shaw, marketing manager for Ending HIV.
“Evidence has been mounting for a long time now and with every new study saying the same thing, we made the decision to make this statement,’ says Shaw.
“People are still using ‘unsafe’ as a synonym for ‘condomless’,’ says Shaw. ‘That needs to change. We feel proud to tell New Zealanders that dropping their load has never been so risk-free.”
A 2014 study found that only 7% of Kiwis would be prepared to have a sexual relationship with someone living with HIV. Only 45% would be willing to eat food prepared by an HIV positive person. For the 3500 New Zealanders living with HIV, this campaign will help tackle some of the stigma they still face, particularly within their own community.
Maintaining an undetectable viral load might not be possible for everyone who is diagnosed with HIV, even if they take their medication as prescribed. It is important that people living with HIV are not pressured or expected to have an undetectable viral load.
Regardless of achieving undetectable or not, getting on treatment early gives someone diagnosed with HIV the best change of leading a long and healthy life.
“People are still using ‘unsafe’ as a synonym for ‘condomless’, that needs to change."
New Zealand AIDS Foundation