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Passing on resistance
May 3, 2008

My partner and I are both hiv positive, with the same viral strain. Initial t-cell count and viral loads, after about 7 and 3 months post-infection were 698/362 and 100,000/210,000, respectively. He was put on meds immediately with an excellent response to the medications, after 3 weeks. I have not yet been put on meds.

My question is how susceptible would I be to developing resistance, assuming he and I still practice unprotected sex?

Is it possible that some of his medication is in his bodily fluids that may then be passed on to me. Not being on meds, the small amount of medication will obviously not work against my virus, allowing it to develop resistance. Is this possible?

Response from Dr. Holodniy

Great question. There will be HIV meds in bodily fluids. Although I am not aware of any data, I think it is unlikely that such a small amount of HIV drug that could be transmitted would affect your viral strain. Remember that despite an undetectable viral load in the blood plasma of your partner, there still are infected cells in various secretions that contain his viral strain. Also, despite the "same" strain, it is evolving differently in both of you depending on your underlying immune system. Safe is always better.



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