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Exactly what can I do to avoid seroconversion?
Oct 7, 2002

My partner is HIV positive and I am negative. What preventive steps can I take to avoid seroconverting? How effective are these steps? A list of preventive measures would be extremely helpful. Thank you.

Response from Dr. Remien

I encourage you to spend some time on the "Safe Sex, Prevention and Transmission" forum of this website. Ryan Kull is doing an excellent of job of answering a wide range of questions about risk of transmission of HIV and other STIs. Here are some of the basics - all written in greater detail on this forum:

In order for there to be a potential risk for transmission, HIV needs access to your bloodstream. During sexual contact, this happens when infected fluids come into contact with mucous membranes (the lining of the vagina, rectum, urethra, and mouth). The presence of any sexually transmitted infection (STI) that causes genital lesions or inflammation can increase this risk for transmission of HIV.

Any time infected fluids (i.e., genital secretions, including pre-semen) come into contact with your mucous membranes or bloodstream, there is the possibility of infection. Again, HIV is known to be sexually transmitted through insertive or receptive vaginal and anal sex, and through receptive fellatio. The incidence of transmission through receptive fellatio is much lower than through anal or vaginal sex. To reduce your risk through oral sex, it is advisable that avoid fluid contact with any cuts or sores in your mouth. Also remember that when HIV comes into contact with mucous membranes or directly with the blood stream, infection is possible. But that doesn't mean it always happens.

Intact skin is a barrier to HIV. Unless HIV infected fluids come into contact with deep, fresh wounds on your skin, semen or other fluids from a partner coming into contact with your skin should not pose a risk.

Latex is an effective barrier to HIV. So, if you used a latex condom correctly, your risk for infection is very low. If the condom remains intact and is used correctly throughout sexual intercourse, it should protect you against HIV infection regardless of the type of fluid with which you are coming into contact.

I hope these are helpful basic guidelines for you. Again, please visit the "Safe Sex, Prevention and Transmission" forum of this website. Specifically, go to the following group of questions and answers: Frequently Asked Questions: HIV/AIDS Transmission and Prevention

You may also want to speak with your physician or an HIV counselor in your community.


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