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Transmission Risk
Jul 4, 2002

I am a healthy 35 year old woman who is recently (6 mths) involved with a HIV positive man. We have always used condoms during intercourse yet I find myself constantly scared of contracting the HIV virus. I am a divorced mother of 3 beautiful children and I find myself immensely afraid that I may one day contract the virus and become ill. I truly love my partner and intend to spend the rest of my life with him. Could you please assist me and provide any and all details of how to protect myself in regards to intercourse, oral sex, etc..

Thank-you

Response from Dr. Remien

It is normal to have a fear of contracting HIV. However, it seems like you are doing what you need to protect yourself. Several studies have shown that consistent and correct use of condoms is highly effective in preventing HIV transmission in couples of mixed HIV status. Oral sex is relatively low risk, but of course HIV can be transmitted through oral sex. Bottom line is that exchange of body fluids (specifically blood and genital secretions) carries risk of transmission. Spend a little time reading the questions and answers on the "Safe Sex, HIV Prevention and Transmission" forum of this website. If you feel like you need more information and/or reassurance speak with an HIV counselor. You and your partner should also be aware of "post exposure treatment" to help prevent transmission in the event of an accident (i.e., a condom breaks during sexual intercourse). It is a treatment that should be administered within hours following the exposure, which is why you should know about it in the event of such an occurrence. Speak with a physician about this. In the meantime, try to relax and trust the protection that you do get from consistent and correct use of condoms and continue to appreciate the wonderful things you seem to have in this relationship.


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