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Is it advisable for positive couples to still use condoms?

Sep 28, 2005

One month ago, I was diagnosed as positive even though I always practiced safer sex. I know that I was infected by my boyfriend, a long-term non-progressor (who has been positive for 8 years, has an undetectable viral load, and has never taken meds). Because he infected me, doesn't this mean that we have the same viral strain? And more importantly, is it necessary that we still use condoms? One physician urged us to continue using condoms, saying that it was possible for him to reinfect me with a different strain of the virus.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Even if your boyfriend did transmit the virus to you (unlikely if you "always practiced safer sex" properly), the virus may evolve differently in two different people. Consequently you may now have somewhat different viral subspecies. I would agree with the physician who urged you to continue using condoms to avoid the possibility of reinfection (superinfection) or possible transmission of other STDs. Of course the ultimate decision is up to you and your boyfriend; however, it's a risk I certainly would not take. Check out the information in the article from Project Inform entitled "Re-infection: Is it a concern for people living with HIV" ( You should also review the information pertaining to reinfection in the archives of the Safer Sex/HIV Prevention Forum.

Good luck to both you and your partner.

Stay well.

Dr. Bob


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