What Can Happen If HIV Goes Undetected?

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At one point in time, contracting HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) was almost certain to be a fatal diagnosis. Fortunately, sweeping advances in medicine and technology have now made it possible for patients with HIV to lead long, healthy lives. However, it is still critical that men and women with HIV understand how to monitor their condition and protect themselves and others. The caring team at Health Services of North Texas (HSNT) understands the sensitive and personal nature of living with HIV/AIDS and is dedicated to providing confidential and compassionate care for patients in Denton, Plano, and Wylie, TX. Learn more about how to manage HIV here, including what it means if your HIV is undetectable and what the difference is between undetectable HIV and undetected HIV.

What is undetectable HIV?

To better understand the implications of living with undetectable HIV, it is important to first know the difference between undetectable HIV and HIV that goes undetected. Undetectable HIV refers to having a viral load under 200 copies/mL. Patients with undetectable HIV are still considered HIV positive, but the amount of virus in their bodies has diminished below the point of detectability, often due to successful antiretroviral therapy (ART). Undetected HIV, on the other hand, can simply refer to a situation in which an HIV-positive patient does not know they are infected with the virus. Because some people remain asymptomatic for many years after contracting HIV and never undergo STD screening, their condition can go undetected and be unknowingly spread to others.

Can you get HIV from someone who is undetectable?

The CDC confirms that patients with undetectable HIV cannot transmit the virus to others via sexual activity. Keep in mind, however, that undetectable HIV is different from undetected or undiagnosed HIV. A person with a detectable HIV load who does not realize they are infected can certainly spread the virus to others through syringe sharing or sexual contact. Furthermore, undetectable HIV loads can increase and become high enough to risk infecting others, particularly when ART is poorly managed or stopped altogether. For this reason, it is essential that HIV-positive patients undergo routine monitoring to ensure their HIV load remains undetectable.

All of our convenient HSNT locations in Denton County and Collin County offer comprehensive HIV/AIDS care, treatment, and monitoring, including the following services:

  • STD testing/screening
  • HIV/AIDS testing
  • HIV monitoring
  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
  • Counseling
  • Behavioral health services
  • HIV medication and therapy management
  • Case management

How long can a person live with HIV undetected?

When a person unknowingly contracts HIV, he or she may live for up to 10 – 15 years before ever developing symptoms or finding out they have the virus. In other cases, patients find out they are HIV positive quickly due to routine screening and/or the presence of concerning symptoms that prompt an HIV test. In either case, however, early detection, treatment, and consistent management are absolutely critical to prevent the virus from progressing to AIDS, which can be fatal. In addition, early and consistent management of your HIV can help you to live a normal, healthy, long life despite your diagnosis.

Living with HIV doesn’t have to be a burden. Protect yourself and your loved ones with advanced HIV care and monitoring in North Texas

While receiving a positive HIV test can certainly be frightening, living with HIV does not mean what it once did. In fact, countless men and women go on to lead normal, healthy, fulfilling lives when their HIV is treated appropriately and monitored regularly. To learn more about how to manage HIV, the importance of monitoring undetectable HIV, and what treatments are available to you, call the welcoming team at Health Services of North Texas today. We look forward to helping you enjoy life once again with comprehensive HIV/AIDS services in Denton, Wylie, and Plano, TX.