Though the beginning of the movement truly goes back decades, in 2023 we celebrate seven official years of U=U. If you haven’t already heard about it, U=U is the globally-accepted scientific consensus which states that when an HIV-positive person is on treatment and reaches an undetectable level of the virus in their system, they then have zero chance of transmitting it to a sexual partner — even without the use of a condom.
This fact is known as “undetectable equals untransmittable,” or U=U, and is now endorsed by over 1,000 organizations in 105 countries, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Not only has the U=U movement freed many people living with HIV to enjoy more liberated sex lives and less stigma, but experts also feel it may be the key to eradicating the virus once and for all. Read more about U=U’s history and the people who helped it succeed on page 26.
The fight against HIV also has more allies than ever. Our cover star, Greg Mathis Jr., known for the reality series Mathis Family Matters, is using his voice and platform to advocate for a variety of marginalized communities. After coming out as gay on TV, Mathis Jr. says he felt “more connected” than ever to the communities that he was a part of, like people of color and LGBTQ+ folks, and the issues that affect them. For that reason, he has also started to focus on advocating for people living with HIV. Read more about Mathis Jr.’s journey to activism (and love) on page 21.
We also feature some other longtime HIV allies in this issue who continue to fight the good fight — and have fun doing it! On page 16, check out which stars showed up to let loose (and help raise funds for HIV causes) at Elton John’s annual Oscar viewing party, one of the most sought-after invites in Hollywood. Then flip to page 46 to see some stunning pics from the recent Broadway Backwards event that also helped raise money for HIV and AIDS causes.
And now, finally, let’s talk about sex. In this issue you’ll find a fascinating essay by HIV activist and educator Alex Garner (page 7) on what it means to have condomless sex, a.k.a. going “bareback,” as a gay man in 2023. He ponders if, in the age of PrEP and U=U, going bare is still a radical act. We also highlight the progress made to combat HIV stigma and the spread of the virus by the dating app Grindr, which recently added a button to its main menu so any user can order a free, at-home HIV testing kit (page 13).