Have you been on Grindr or Scruff lately and seen people with the [+u] symbol in their profiles?
But what does [+u] mean? And why does it matter?[+u] indicates that someone is HIV Positive and have managed, through medication, to obtain an undetectable viral load. This means that in a sample of a milliliter of blood only 40 to 75 copies of the virus are found (the number varies depending on the lab testing). For comparison when I personally presented with HIV I had 52,000 copies, compared to the less than 40 that was achieved after 6 weeks of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) treatment. Studies have shown that the chance of transmission from someone who is [+u] is reduced by 96% (if not higher!).
But why does this affect you, someone who is likely to be HIV negative? Because studies have shown that you’re far more likely to acquire HIV from someone who does not know their status! Studies such as the Australian ‘Seroconversion Study’ reported that 60.9% of people acquired HIV from someone who didn’t know their status. Other studies have shown this is up to 85%.
So, choosing to have unprotected sex with those who are [+u] would be a smarter choice then unprotected sex with someone who doesn’t know their status – or who gets tested irregularly. Gone are the days when one serosorts based on someone saying they are positive or negative. Now we have the confidence of the [+u] status. And people are now starting to ask about testing and sexual practices as a part of choosing how and who to have sex with.
Be a part of the change. If you’re HIV Positive declare that you are [+u]. And if you’re HIV Positive, but yet to become undetectable – know that the discussion the [+u] symbol will inspire will help others understand the journey you are on, and help them come from a place of understanding. If you are a part of a Positive Organisation or AIDS Council you can advertise on Scruff for free.
The [+u] symbol movement was started by Campbell Clarkson. Thank you, Campbell, for having the bravery to put your idea forward. And thank you to everyone who has followed in his stead. It is empowering to help others make positive choices.