A new promotional campaign in New Zealand is encouraging gay men to drop their load to end HIV transmission.
Conducted by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF), the new Ending HIV campaign is trying to combat the stigma surrounding having sex with someone who is HIV positive with an Undetectable Viral Load.
A 2014 survey found that only 7% of Kiwis would be prepared to have a sexual relationship with someone living with HIV.
This campaign speaks to HIV-negative people, alleviating unnecessary fears that lead to stigma and prejudice, which discourage testing and lead to increased infection rates.
An undetectable viral load is when the amount of HIV in a person’s blood is no longer able to be detected by a standard viral load test.
This latest message from Ending HIV is in support of the global U=U movement, which declares that Undetectable = Untransmittable.
A spokesperson for Ending HIV Michael Shaw said the NZAF is 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.
“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,” said Shaw.
The new campaign features a commercial with NZ comedian Tom Sainsbury getting home from a night out with his date and discussing reasons why they shouldn’t have sex in the back of an Uber.
Along with condoms and the daily HIV prevention pill PrEP, undetectable is a prevention strategy that will help end new transmissions of HIV.
“People are still using ‘unsafe’ as a synonym for ‘condomless’,” said Shaw.
“That needs to change. We feel proud to tell New Zealanders that dropping their load has never been so risk-free.”
Kiwis will see this message popping up everywhere – on the radio during their morning drive to work, flicking through Grindr, or walking down main streets all over the country.
To spread the word further, Ending HIV has created 1,500 pun-filled cum rags, to educate about undetectable while loads are dropped.
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 chance of leading a long and healthy life.