Community health centre

A Checkpoint is a health centre for gay and other men who have sex with men (MSM). The Checkpoints Vaud and Zürich also counsel transgender people and their partners.

Viral load not detectable – the Swiss Statement

HIV positive, viral load (VL - Viral Load): what does «undetectable» mean?

In January 2008, EKAF (Swiss Commission for Aids Questions) presented its’ new findings, «that an HIV infected person, who does not have any other sexually transmitted disease and is undergoing a functioning antiretroviral therapy, does not pass on the HI virus through sexual contacts».

The viral load is regularly determined by a blood sample. The amount of copies of the HI viruses in the blood are detemined per millilitre of blood. One speaks of «not detectable», when this value is below 20 copies per millilitre of blood (< 20 copies/ml).

This is especially good news for couples; one of which

  • is HIV positive
  • is undergoing an effective HIV treatment (HI viruses are no longer detectable)
  • follows the therapy by the book and takes the prescribed medication
  • has been undergoing medical treatment for at least 6 months and
  • is not the carrier of another sexually transmittable disease

Notabene: The medication suppresses the viral load almost completely (according to EKAF up to non-infectiousness), but the virus remains stored in the body, despite treatment. In the case of a decreasing or broken off therapy; it would multiply itself again.

Safer Sex - protection

HIV positive people, who have alternative sexual partners, should not forego safer sex even if their viral load is not detectable. 

The safer sex rules reduce the infection risk for other sexually transmittable Infections (STI’s). They do not however rule out an infection as these STI’s are more easliy transmiited than HIV. Syphilis can, for instance, also be transmitted through kissing.