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Jonathan Van Ness explains what ‘undetectable’ means live on national TV

Ella Braidwood September 25, 2019

Jonathan Van Ness on the Today show. (Today/NBC)

Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness has explained on national television how research shows that if you are HIV positive and you have an undetectable viral load – then the virus is un-transmittable.

Van Ness, who publicly revealed that he is HIV-positive over the weekend, explained how the HIV virus can be effectively treated – allowing people like him to lead happy, healthy lives – to ensure that it cannot be passed on.

Speaking on NBC’s Today on Tuesday, September 24, the Queer Eye grooming expert was asked to explain how the virus can be reduced to undetectable levels with daily medication.

Undetectable equals un-transmittable, says Jonathan Van Ness.

Jonathan Van Ness
Jonathan Van Ness attends the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. (Rich Fury/Getty Images for GLAAD)

“The term undetectable means there’s a thing called your viral load and that’s how much the virus is in you,” he said.

“You take a pill every day and it basically kills all the copies of the virus in your blood, and that means you can achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load.

Van Ness then highlighted studies by the National Institute for Health Research in the UK and the Center of Disease Control (CDC) in the US, which support the evidence that HIV is un-transmittable if the viral load is undetectable.

The slogan “undetectable = un-transmittable” or “U=U” dates back to 2016 when it was first launched by the Prevention Access Campaign.

“I’ve done nothing but get cuter and work harder.”

Prevention Access also released a statement in agreement with the U=U campaign, which has since been endorsed by more than 900 organisations from almost 100 countries.

The 32-year-old Queer Eye hair stylist continued: “I’ve picked up figure skating! I’ve done nothing but get cuter and be able to work harder, and longer hours… I feel like I’m thriving.”

Van Ness publicly disclosed his HIV status in an interview with The New York Times on Saturday, September 21.

He also writes about his experience of living with HIV in his new memoir, Over the Top, which was published on September 24.

I feel like I’m thriving.

In the book, Van Ness also reveals that he was sexually abused as a child.

He said he found out that he had HIV at the age of 25 after getting a check-up when he fainted while working in a hair salon.

“That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be,” he writes.

Van Ness is the second high-profile figure to reveal he has HIV in recent weeks, with rugby star Gareth Thomas revealing that he is living with the virus after a tabloid threatened to publicly disclose his status earlier this month.

More: HIV, Jonathan Van Ness, queer eye

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