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HIV-positive husband who won't use condoms
Oct 16, 2011

My husband is HIV positive and has been for the nine years we have been together. When we first found out about his diagnosis, we had only been together for one year and I was pregnant with our first child. I had an HIV test immediately and it came back negative. The child was tested at birth and was negative as well. The doctor that my husband was seeing told me specifically that I did not need to use protection (condoms) and that because my husband's viral load was undetectable, we could enjoy a normal sex life, including oral sex (which we don't even do). But, my husband took this advice to heart and does not use any precaution at all. We have now had a second child and the baby was also tested and was negative (I was also negative at that time). Now, it has been four years since I have had a test and I am always scared to take another. I feel that my husband should be using condoms, but he says that we don't need to and we have been doing this for so long now, it is obvious that I can't get it from him. Please give me your advice. I am still very scared of getting it.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

You may have heard about a report published in Switzerland in 2008, which stated that HIV-positive individuals without additional sexually transmitted infections and on effective anti-retroviral therapy are sexually non-infectious. The report was meant to be narrow in scope but created great controversy. You can read a discussion of the report here.

You both should speak with your physician about the decision not to use condoms. If, for some reason, his viral load should increase you would certainly be at risk. I personally feel such a decision requires the consent and comfort of both parties - your fears need to be addressed. Given the fact that your husband is positive you should also speak with your physician about a testing schedule for HIV.

-David



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