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Do we really know?
Dec 5, 2003

I am dating an HIV positive woman and both her and her doctor have told me that people on meds don't die from this anymore. Is that really true or do we simply not know. He also told me that HIV transmision between hetrosexuals is only high due to people in Africa with high viral loads. Any truth to this? The last statement is mixed status hetro couples only transmit when they share needles if condoms are used every sigle time. Please let me know if this is accurate. Thank you.

Response from Dr. Remien

While the general message that I imagine your partner and her doctor and trying to give you has validity, the absolute and definitive way you are stating the issues cannot legitimately be made. In other words, there are people who do die from HIV disease even when on antiretroviral therapy. And while consistent and correct use of condoms in heterosexual relationships can significantly reduce the risk for transmission of HIV to a negligible level, the risk cannot be said to be "zero."

People living with HIV who get good ongoing medical care and adhere well to their medications (when prescribed) are much less likely to die from HIV disease than they did early on in the epidemic. And again, consistent and correct use of protective barriers can help keep their sex partners free of HIV. There is good reason to expect to have a long and healthy life with this woman, if you are both interested in maintaining this relationship. However, let's also be honest, none of us can be certain about the future when it comes to health, illness, and mortality, whether living with or without HIV.


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