You do not need to take PrEP if your partner, who has HIV, is undetectable.
When you have an undetectable viral load, this means that the chances of you transmitting HIV to someone else are practically zero.
However, there are certain reasons that you may choose to take PrEP despite this fact. Read on for more information about when you need to take PrEP!
What Is PrEP?
PrEP is a medication that can protect you against contracting the HIV virus.
You should consider this medication if you don’t have HIV and any of the following factors apply to your situation:
You have had sex with someone in the past 6 months and:
- You have not used a condom
- You have had a sexually transmitted disease in the past 6 months.
- You have had sex with someone who has HIV, especially if they are not undetectable
You inject drugs and you share a needle with someone with HIV, or you share needles or other equipment with people you don’t know.
You should also consider taking PrEP if you have been prescribed PEP and you are continuing your risky behavior.
You can also choose to take prep in many other situations.
What Is An Undetectable Viral Load?
You will be able to find out if your viral load is undetectable through a test that your doctor can provide.
You will require a blood test for this and it will test the levels of the virus in your blood. If the level of the virus is very low, then the virus is undetectable.
This means that it cannot be passed between people and that your life won’t be affected by HIV.
If I Have An Undetectable Viral Load, Can I Transmit HIV?
The risk of transmitting HIV is zero if:
- You are undetectable.
- You have been taking HIV medication for six months.
- You continue this treatment.
This has been thoroughly tested over the past few years and it has been found that between a couple where one part of the couple is HIV positive and has an undetectable viral load, and one part of the couple does not have HIV, they will not transmit it on to other people.
Can Someone Become Detectable After Being Undetectable?
Yes. If you are undetectable, this doesn’t mean that you have gotten rid of HIV forever. There are certain times when you may become detectable again.
This can occur in what is referred to as a viral blip. This is when your HIV levels become slightly detectable and then go back to being undetectable again.
Usually, this is due to an issue with the test, rather than being an accurate representation of the levels of HIV in the blood. This can also be caused by illness.
If you take your medication properly, it is very unlikely that you will actually become detectable. You will still be very unlikely to transmit HIV to another person.
You will become detectable again if you stop taking your medication.
It may take a few weeks after ceasing the treatment to become detectable but the levels will start to rise.
In the past, there have been situations where the body has become resistant to the HIV medications that they are taking.
However, this does not happen anymore as the medicines are very powerful and work well at controlling HIV (see also ‘How Does HIV Suppression Work?‘) .
What If My Partner Misses A Dose?
If your partner is undetectable and has been taking their medication every day, it is not too big a problem if you miss a dose.
It will take at least one week for the viral loads to become detectable after you have stopped taking your medication.
Should I Take PrEP If I’m Sleeping With A HIV Positive Partner?
You don’t have to take PrEP if you are sleeping with someone who has an undetectable HIV load.
However, you should consider your own situation to see if it is worth taking it anyway.
You should consider whether you are monogamous with this one partner and consider if this person is having their viral load information checked or not.
You should also consider whether your partner is receiving regular medical care.
If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions, it is a good idea to take PrEP.
However, if you are in a monogamous relationship with an HIV-positive person, and you know that they are undetectable and have been for at least 6 months, there is no reason that you would need to take PrEP.
There is a psychological benefit to taking PrEP as it can feel like adding a layer of protection.
Do I Still Need To Use Condoms With My Partner Who Is Undetectable?
You do not also need to use condoms if you are taking HIV medications, however, condoms do protect you from other sexually transmitted infections and so they should be used for this reason.
You might contract an STI if you don’t use condoms.
Can Young People Use PrEP?
PrEP pills are very safe for adolescents to use. If you are at risk of getting HIV, you should consider getting this medication.
You will have to weigh at least 77 pounds.
What If Your Viral Load is Detectable?
If your viral load or the viral load of your partner is detectable, you should discuss this with your partner.
In this case, you should use condoms and talk to your partner about going on PrEP.
Although this can be frustrating, there are always things that can be done to help the situation and these are very useful ideas.
So, if you were wondering if you need to take PrEP even if your partner is undetectable, the answer is no, you don’t.
Despite this fact, lots of people opt to use PrEP as another layer of protection against the virus.
Treatment and medication for HIV (see also ‘HIV: Treatment Options And Managing Symptoms‘) have come on in leaps and bounds, and it is fantastic that the viral load for HIV can become undetectable.