WATCH: Act Up Dublin Release First U=U Short Film With HIV Activist Robbie Lawlor

'Love & Suppression' from Act Up Dublin shows sero-discordant couples living in harmony thanks to anti-retroviral medication

Maurice Leahy and Robbie Lawlor on a beach with their dog in the short film U=U for HIV activism group Act Up Dublin

“Essentially U=U is if you’re living with HIV, you’re on medication, you’re virally suppressed you just can not pass on HIV”

Act Up Dublin has released the short film Love & Suppression which explores the development of the U=U consensus and the radical changes that modern HIV treatments have brought to those living with the virus.

For those unfamiliar with the acronym, U=U stands for Undetectable=Undetectable, a research-backed understanding that if a person living with HIV is virally suppressed to the point that modern HIV tests cannot detect the virus, then they are not able to pass on HIV.

The film, which screened at Intertech’s HIV panel discussion POZNEG, features HIV activist Robbie Lawlor and his partner Maurice, members of the PARTNER study which helped to provide evidence to support U=U.

In a press release, Act Up Dublin explained what the film is about: “Love & Suppression tells the story of how learning about the powerful prevention impact of HIV treatment has changed the lives of an Irish couple.”

“Robbie and Maurice explain how they, as participants in the landmark PARTNER study, are living proof that a person living with HIV on effective treatment cannot pass on HIV to their sexual partner.”



In Love & Suppression, Lawlor speaks about the transcendent message that the film hopes to spread.

“There are currently 37 million people living in the world with HIV,” Lawlor explains in the video, adding that the findings of the PARTNER study are “going to change our lives and the lives of those 37 million people forever.”

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“There is still a lot of fear born out of ignorance around HIV. And the importance of the U=U message is that it will get people into the clinics, it will lessen that fear around HIV.”

“I think this message is one of the best tools we have currently of combatting that fear and ignorance and getting people to know their status,” he said.

With misconceptions around HIV still high in Ireland, education is one of the tools which can help reduce HIV stigma, the video posits.


Real-World Impact

The film was directed by HIV activist, Act Up Dublin member and artist Will St Leger who hopes that the film will make an impact in combatting “myths and misinformation” surrounding HIV.

“We wanted to look beyond the dry medical data to the real-world impact that the Undetectable=Untransmittable (“U equals U”) message can have on the lives of millions of people living with HIV and those who love them,” St Leger said.

“We hope by telling Robbie and Maurice’s story, that we can dispel some of the myths and misinformation about HIV treatment and transmission.”

Check out the short film below:

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