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Are pets ok with HIV?
Jul 15, 2007

Dear Dr Pierone Do pets affect HIV positive people's health? I am raising two cats and they are very close to me, sleeping by my sides at night. I am afraid they affect me. Can you tell me the truth?

Thank you

Peter

Response from Dr. Pierone

Hello, and thanks for posting.

There are some risks involved with pets, but they are generally manageable. For example, cats may transmit the parasite toxoplasmosis to humans, although contaminated food is probably a much more common means of transmission. Even if one does acquire toxoplasmosis at some point in life, this infection generally does not reactivate unless the CD4 count drops below 200 and it is also treatable with sulfa-based antibiotics. So as a general rule, people with HIV should consider testing to see if they have dormant infection with toxoplasmosis. But there is no reason to worry about your cats.

I think that pets positively impact the health of people who are living with HIV infection. The companionship and support from a pet may improve quality of life with other medical conditions as well.

There are exceptions however. Tarantulas are not a good choice. I speak from experience because for some inexplicable reason my daughters chose to keep 2 of them as pets. In this instance, they decrease quality of life, namely mine - since I'm the one that has to drive out to the pet store to buy live crickets to feed them. A furry cat would be nice.



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