PARN Executive Director Kim Dolan, with keynote speaker and editor of PositiveLite.com Bob Leahy, and PARN PHA Engagement Worker Brittany Cameron. – Alex Karn
The Peterborough Aids Resource Network (PARN) invited community members to learn more about the U=U movement, with a speech and World Café hosted at the Showplace Performance Centre on Wednesday (June 21).
Keynote speaker Bob Leahy, editor of PositiveLite.com, Canada’s online HIV magazine, explained that evidence laid out in multiple major studies dating from 2008 to 2016 have confirmed that when people living with HIV take their treatment every day exactly as prescribed, and maintain an undetectable HIV viral load, they are not capable of transmitting HIV sexually.
“This is a defining moment for the HIV community,” says PARN Executive Director Kim Dolan. “U=U is a game changer in the same way that the introduction of antiretroviral therapy was in the 1990s. We can see the end of the AIDS epidemic on the horizon, and that’s something we’ve never been able to say before.”
She also announced that as of June 21, PARN has joined the growing list of organizations endorsing the U=U Consensus Statement.
Undetectable = Untransmittable began as a grassroots campaign driven entirely by people living with HIV, but has since been backed by experts in more than 275 organizations across 30 countries.
“This is a campaign like no other,” notes Leahy.
He adds the 2016 PARTNER study, which encompassed 888 couples where one partner was living with HIV but maintained a non-detectable viral load and one partner did not have HIV found zero linked transmissions of HIV. The study counted more than 58,000 condomless sex acts.
“U=U improves the lives of those living with HIV, dismantles stigma, incentivizes treatment adherence, improves personal and public health outcomes, and underscores the need for universal access to HIV treatment, care and diagnostics,” Leahy states.
PARN works within a provincial HIV strategy set by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s AIDS Bureau. The current strategy was released in 2016 with a vision of Ontario in 2026 where new HIV transmissions will be rare and people living with HIV will lead long, healthy lives, free from stigma and discrimination.
To learn more about PARN, visit www.parn.ca.
You can also view the U=U Consensus Statement at www.preventionaccess.org.
Author: Alex Karn