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Fauci: From A Practical Standpoint The Risk Is ZERO.

2018 NLGJA Excellence in Journalism Award Winner Blogging Josh Robbins

The world’s leading immunologist: Zero Risk. This is the crowning vindication of #UequalsU.

Last year the CDC and over 500 organizations from around the world backed the science behind the U=U campaign. The greatest minds and organizations in the field are proudly sharing the news.

If you haven’t heard yet, someone living with HIV with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV to a sexual partner (even without condoms or PrEP.)

But some folks just won’t be clear in their description of risk.

In an exclusive interview with, Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director of NIAID for the NIH, goes on the record to clear up any mixed messages: “From a practical standpoint, the risk is zero, so don’t worry about it.”

“From a practical standpoint, the risk is zero, so don’t worry about it.”

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Zero HIV transmission risk?

During the interview I bring up the current state of how the public health messaging in the past two years is confusing to many.

We’ve got all these word semantics happening: virtually zero risk, essentially no risk, low risk, practically zero risk, negligible, probably zero, almost zero, etc.

But Fauci is clear that from a practical standpoint it’s: zero.

“Right. And then the reason … I hope you got what I was saying, when you’re going to put it in the context of relative risk, how you live your life, from the practical standpoint is zero.”

Public Health Messaging

During this interniew, I mention that Avert tweeted:  “When HIV is undetectable, there’s a zero risk of it being transmitted to others.” I ask Fauci if this is factual and if this tweet from a public health perspective, is accurate.


Fauci responds, “You know, it gets back … See, I don’t want to be backed into things that I’m going to get out of context. I stand by what I said. From a practical standpoint … And I would say from a practical standpoint, that tweet is accurate. But if you’re trying to get a public health measure message out, and you start tossing words and do it, you’ll never get the message. You’ll never get a message out. That’s the reason why you got to talk about, in the relative risk of practicality of how you live your life.”

“Biologists and scientists are always reticent to say zero risk. In other words, nothing is 100% effective and nothing is 100% risk-free. But if you stop there, then you get confusion.”

“See, it’s impossible to live in a world with a zero risk, but from a practical standpoint with how you conduct yourself at work, how you do this, how you go to work, how you travel, how you have sex -what’s the risk? From a practical standpoint, the risk is zero, so don’t worry about it.”

Bruce Richman, Executive Director, Prevention Access Campaign
Bruce Richman, Executive Director, Prevention Access Campaign

Bruce Richman, executive director of Prevention Access Campaign with the transformative message of #UequalsU says, “This is the kind of clarity about messaging that we’ve needed. The fact that Dr. Fauci clearly and intentionally confirmed “in practical terms, no risk,” needs to be shouted from the rooftops. We’re still fighting [HIV] organizations that won’t let go of that barrier of fear between us and HIV negative people. Layers of stigma and serophobia run deep in this the field.”

Finally, A Clear Measage

Finally, the message is clear. The risk is defined by the real expert in the field and there is no risk.

Organizations and individuals that have continued to inaccurately describe the risk of those living with HIV are on the wrong side of history. They are wrong on this issue. Period.

Richman is hopeful, “Adversaries can become our best allies.”

The pressure will continue to build, showing how out of touch those on the wrong side of HIV history really are. Let’s hope they don’t consider their opinion superior to the leading HIV expert in the world.

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