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Is there an answer
Sep 27, 2002

Recently I met a wonderful man who quickly disclosed in HIV Positive status to me. I am an HIV Negative man. He is in great health and has an undetectable viral load and had been on the cocktail for 6 years now. I am wondering if there is any way to calculate the risk of infection assuming safe anal sex and unsafe oral sex Are there any statistics that give the likely hood of transmission per encounter? I guess I am trying to find out what the likely hood I could contract the virus. I am also curious about the information on current life expectancy for people of the cocktail. Any information you can share or direct me to will be greatly appreciated.

Response from Dr. Remien

You are seeking very specific answers about yourself that really cannot be given. Any information that is out there about "probabilities" of infection is based on studies of groups of people. While a lot is known about level of risk with specific behaviors the transmission of HIV is based on so many factors, including ones you do not have control over. Some of these factors include the strain of virus of your partner, his viral load of the semen at the time of exposure, the health and condition of your mucous membranes where the virus might enter, genetic factors, etc. It sounds like you know the basics about risk of anal and oral sex. Spend a little time on the "Safe Sex, Prevention and Transmission" Forum of this website - there is a lot of information there. My recommendation is that you use protection for the sake of both of you, find ways to have pleasurable and satisfying sex, and don't be afraid to communicate with each other about how you feel about these issues.

On the issue of life expectancy. The bad news, again, is that there are no guarantees. The good news is that people are living longer and healthier with HIV and it is not unreasonable to anticipate a "normal" life span for many people infected with HIV. As time goes on we will learn more and more about this. Bottom line is that people need to live their lives as healthily and optimistically as they can and take it all one day at a time.


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