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shall i have some hope?
Jun 22, 2006

Dear Dr Bob,

Thank you for your dedication and courage, this site is trully a blessing for people that are worried about their lives, being HIV+ or HIV-. My question is simple: my partner, whom I have had unprotected sex (penetrating my vagina) has been tested HIV+, and I have taken the test right away and it come negative...but the last sex intercourse happened 2 weeks ago. Is this result for the rapid test, which I know is not definitive, improving my chances to be HIV-? We have had around 40-50 times in the last three months, considerably less than in the first 3 months of our relation. He is African and I am European, we are both in our 30. I know I need to wait for 12 weeks to feel relieved, and another 3 to be 'off the hook', but I am afraid I will go insane until then. I am not in my native country, and I have only few friends, I need to finish my studies and I am really, really down and miserable. I am trying to support my partner as much as I can, but sometimes only seeing him make me feel horrible, and I start to cry; which is not helping him very much, as you can imagine. Thank you very much, in advance,if you could find time to answer my question - I will send a donation for your just cause.

Response from Dr. Frascino


I'm sorry to hear about your boyfriend's recent diagnosis and understand your dual concern for his health and your own status. Certainly having unprotected sex does place you at some degree of risk for HIV. Our best statistical estimate of that risk would put the per-act risk for unprotected receptive penile-vaginal sex with a partner confirmed to be HIV positive at 10 per 10,000 exposures. Each episode of unprotected sex carries the same estimated statistical risk. Your negative HIV test at two weeks is indeed encouraging, but you are correct your three-month test is the critical one. Also, because you have had significant exposure to a partner confirmed to be HIV positive, the CDC recommends a six-month follow-up test for an absolutely conclusive and definitive negative result.

Surviving the window period with its uncertainties can certainly be highly stressful. Even though you are not in your native country and have only a few friends locally, I urge you to seek out and establish a support system that will help you through this challenging period. Contact your local AIDS service organizations and inquire about local support groups. There may even be a session for magnetic couples (one positive, one negative) that both you and your boyfriend could attend together. If that doesn't work out, perhaps individual counseling sessions with an HIV-knowledgeable and compassionate therapist would help.

I'm sending you my very best good-luck/good-health karma that your follow-up HIV tests will remain negative.

Should you have hope? Absolutely! Remember whatever the outcome, I'm here if you need me, OK?

Good luck and good health to both you and your boyfriend.

Dr. Bob

You're Not Alone...Thank You.

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