Red ribbon alongside a chips cross bearing HIV/AIDS

Is there such as thing as a HIV carrier?

Growing up, people would use the term 'HIV carrier' often. It was widely believed that while some people could get HIV, they could not be sickly even without treatment.

Let’s set things straight first. When it comes to HIV, you are either HIV positive or HIV negative. There is no such thing as an HIV Carrier. Understood? 

You also cannot tell if someone has HIV by just looking at them. The only way to know if someone has HIV is if they tell you or if you test with them, voluntarily of course.

Lastly, not everyone who is thin and looks sickly has HIV. We are way past that school of thought. 

So where did the word carrier come from?

In the early 90s and 2000s, a lot of people living with HIV were at the asymptomatic stage of HIV meaning they showed no HIV symptoms at all.

At this time, if you were living with HIV and did not show any HIV signs and symptoms such as becoming 'thin and.or being sickly,' you were considered an HIV carrier. 

It was widely believed that someone could not have a ‘healthy body’ if they had HIV. People living with HIV were seen as being sickly and thin. Back then, not everyone could access treatment because it was very expensive. Treatment was only for the rich. Due to lack of treatment, HIV sas considered a death sentence and a poor man disease.

But over the period time, we have made huge strides in the fight against HIV. We have better treatment, anyone living with HIV can access them for free at most public health facilities and now persons living with HIV can live a long and healthy life just like someone who does not have HIV.

What about someone who has an undetectable viral load?

Someone who has an undetectable viral load is not an HIV carrier. Undetectable viral load is when the amount of HIV in your blood is so low that it can’t be detected.  With an undetectable viral load, the chance of you passing HIV to a partner who doesn’t have HIV is greatly reduced.

It is also important to note that undetectable viral load can only be achieved through adherence to ARVs and following the doctor’s advice. 

Did you learn something new?

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