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mixed status couples
Apr 26, 2003

i know that the chances of passing on hiv from male to female when not using a condom are low with people who have a low viral load and the female is healthy. but what are some numbers for unprotected vaginal intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, sex while menstrating? given that the man is on meds with a viral load of less than 500 copies per million and the woman is healthy with no known std's. just some general numbers would be nice.

Response from Dr. Wohl

The numbers you want are not precisely worked out and, I fear, would be misleading.

How low a risk is low when we are talking about a uniformly fatal virus? What if I told you the risk of catching rabies (another absolutely fatal illness) was one in 500 dog bites and you were a dog handler - would you take the rabies vaccine? What if it was one in 1000 or 10,000? Would that change your mind about taking the vaccine? Not if you like living.

The risk is finite despite 'the man's' low viral load (pregnant women with undetectable viral loads have been documented to transmit HIV to their babies during birth). Menses, genital infections, type of sex, which country you live in, are just some of the variables any formula to calculate risk of transmission would have to include.

The answer? unsatisfactory but a lifesaver = get latex. DW

numbers all over the place
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