Adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and sustained HIV suppression virtually eliminate HIV transmission, eg, having an undetectable viral load renders HIV untransmittable (U=U). Owing to the greatly reduced likelihood of HIV transmission when viral load is undetectable, we studied one behavioral ramification of adopting a U=U prevention strategy—not disclosing HIV status to sex partners.
Cisgender men recruited through community outreach in the state of Georgia, USA.
We examined HIV status disclosure to sex partners among 345 young (median age = 29 years) men receiving ART. Data were collected using computerized interviews, daily sexual behavior surveys over 28 days, unannounced pill counts for ART adherence, urine tests for drug use and urogenital health, and blood samples for HIV viral load.
One in 3 participants (34%) engaged in condomless anal/vaginal intercourse with an HIV-negative/unknown HIV status partner over 28 days. Average ART adherence was 76%, and one in 5 men had detectable HIV viral loads. Men who engaged in condomless sex with undisclosed partners demonstrated significantly less HIV disclosure to family and friends and had fewer enacted stigma experiences. Hierarchical regression models showed that endorsing U=U as a personal HIV prevention strategy predicted undisclosed condomless sex over and above substance use, HIV stigma experiences, disclosure to family and friends, ART adherence, and HIV viral load.
Interventions are needed to improve ART adherence and assist men living with HIV in their decisions to disclose HIV status to sex partners.