Antiretroviral treatment (ART) greatly reduces the risk of transmitting HIV. Several very large studies have now shown that people with undetectable viral load do not pass on HIV to their sexual partners. However, there is still a possibility that HIV might be passed on during the period between starting treatment and viral load becoming detectable, which may take up to six months, or if viral load rebounds due to treatment failure.
A lot of people with HIV see the reduction of infectiousness and relief from anxiety about transmission as very important benefits of HIV treatment.
If you want to stop using condoms, it is important to discuss this carefully with your partners and ensure they are also comfortable with the decision. Discussing what an undetectable viral load means with HIV-negative partners may help reduce their anxiety about HIV transmission. But this information will probably be new to most people who do not have HIV; it may take time for someone to understand and trust what you are saying.
Knowing how HIV treatment can reduce the risk of passing on the virus may be especially useful for people wishing to have a child. Couples in which one person has HIV and the other does not may consider having unprotected sex on days when the woman is ovulating and at her most fertile.
It is important to remember that while HIV treatment will protect your partners from your HIV, it does not protect them or you from other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Also, in some countries, condomless sex without disclosing your HIV status is a criminal offence, regardless of the likelihood of HIV transmission.
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