By Lumbiwe Mwanza
The Positive Movement (PM+) organization has appealed to the ministry of health to scale up awareness messages among persons with hiv on how to achieve and maintain undetectable viral load.
A person living with HIV is considered to have an ‘undetectable’ viral load when antiretroviral treatment has brought the level of virus in their body to such low levels that blood tests cannot detect it.
Organizations founder Nsofwa Sampa says the need to ease access to information about undetectable viral load remains critical in order to attain the 90-90-90- goals by 2020, that is 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy to have viral suppression.
“You find that some adolescents are still ignorant about what it entails to have undetectable viral load, and some when they achieve it they begin living reckless lifestyles”. Sampa said.
Sampa said that government should implement strategies aimed at raising awareness among adolescents who are most vulnerable to the HIV pandemic on the risk behaviors that undermine efforts of maintaining and achieving a suppressed viral load.
She observed that more effort has been directed at promoting antiretroviral therapy (ART) and not highlighting much on behaviors that frustrate efforts to end HIV transmissions.
“Evidence has shown that as long as you continue to have your viral load monitored by a health professional to confirm that you are undetectable, then there is zero risk of you transmitting HIV to others and your health will not be affected by HIV but the problem is that some people begging indulging themselves in illicit activities”,she said.
Sampa said that It is important to remind persons with HIV through messages and engagement programs that even if one has an undetectable viral load, HIV is still present in the body.
She emphasized the need to decentralize messages aimed at educating the HIV community that interrupting treatment after attaining undetectable viral load can make HIV transmittable again.
Sampa expressed confidence that the 90-90-90 goals will be attained if messages about other ways to reduce the risk of HIV transmission, such as taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) And correct use of condoms is promoted.