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Project Eban Partcipant at Columbia University, NYC
Mar 7, 2004

Dear Dr. Remien - I am hiv positive and my significant other is negative. We had unprotected sex prior until we found out the diagnosis. Our unprotected sex was for a long period of time before we found out with me having 2 pregnancies. How come my partner is negative and i am positive? It has been approximately 18 months since we both found out together. We use protected sex now and ever since we found out;but what is baffling me shouldn't he be positive also being that we were having unprotected sex prior for a long period something like 2 years and till this day he remains negative. I would also like to thank you Dr Remien myself and my partner got info from you and now we are participants in the study called Project Eban at Columbia University and we are happy we joined!

Response from Dr. Remien

I first want to say that I am glad that you were able to get involved in Project EBAN. I am a Co-Investigator in that study and I am pleased to hear that you find it helpful.

You are asking a very good question, but one that cannot be answered with any definitive response. The HIV virus is not the easiest virus to transmit between two people. While it is possible for a person to become infected after just one episode of unprotected sex, other people are lucky to not become infected following multiple exposures over a long period of time. HIV transmission is dependent on numerous factors including the general health and immune status of the two people involved, the strain of virus and the viral load of the HIV+ person at the time of the unprotected sex, the condition of the genital tracts of both persons, genetic vulnerability of the uninfected person, and more. The bottom line is that it is fortunate that transmission did not occur during the time when you were having unprotected sex. But there is no guarantee that transmission would not occur if unprotected sex were to continue. So, it is good that you and your partner are concerned and are taking care of each other by using protection.

Programs like Project EBAN are developed to facilitate mutual care-taking behavior and satisfying and strong relationships for HIV mixed status couples. Continue to take care of each other and enjoy your relationship - be well.

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