Study by Stephenson suggests 1/5 men with HIV may mistakenly believe they're not contagious.
"Some men with HIV may mistakenly believe they're not contagious" - Reuters. 1/23/2020.
But one in five men said they were virally suppressed and had blood tests showing this wasn't true. Another 7.5% of men said they were contagious, but based on lab tests done during the study, they were not.
These results suggest some HIV-positive men may not fully understand the public health message that "undetectable equals untransmittable," or U=U, said lead study author Rob Stephenson of the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
"U=U is a major advance in prevention science," Stephenson said by email. "We know it works - virally suppressed men will not transmit HIV - but for U=U to work requires men to (know) whether they are virally suppressed."
Men in the study who mistakenly said they were virally suppressed might not be intentionally lying, Stephenson added. Instead, they might not understand that viral levels change over time or that previous test results may not reflect their current status.
"A doctor may have told you six months ago that you were virally suppressed and you hold this as a static truth," Stephenson said.