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And what does it mean to different people in different contexts?

BETA put these questions to Zachary Barnett and Derek Brocklehurst, two gay men with different experiences of “undetectable.” Zachary is the founder and executive director of the Abzyme Research Foundation, an organization working toward an HIV vaccine, and has written candidly in the Advocate about his experiences disclosing his own HIV status and undetectable viral load.

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Pr EP opens the door to talking about situations where the risk of HIV infection will be so low that perhaps going without condoms is a reasonable choice.

I will share with you the guidance I give my patients.

Derek brings his perspectives as a San Francisco-based registered nurse specializing in HIV and an outspoken past Pr EP user with HIV-positive and HIV-negative sex partners.

In this Q&A, Derek and Zachary offer their takes on what “undetectable” means, and their advice for how to talk about it with hook-ups, dates, and other important people in your life, whatever your HIV status. The first meaning is very clinical: Doctors aren’t able to find a detectable amount of virus when they screen you at regular check-ups. ” Asking the viral load question triggers a series of follow-up questions that help gauge where he’s at and how he takes care of himself.

Editor’s note (2016): Since this article was published in 2013, there have been many exciting developments in research on viral suppression and treatment as prevention.