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hiv 2 question
Nov 15, 2000

Hi Ryan. I have a question regarding HIV 2. About 5 years ago I "fooled around" with a male friend of mine who is originally from Algiers, Algeria. Everything about the encounter was safe (to my recollection, and I was not drinking) except the part where he attempted to enter me and I got mad. I recall pushing him away immediately. However the thought stays with me that I may have been exposed to pre-ejaculatory fluid; who knows. I have recently tested negative for HIV 1. But now I am worried about HIV 2. I have read that is about 10 times harder to acquire and that it is pretty much endemic to west African countries. However in doing more research I found out that Algeria borders Mauritania which has about a 1% prevalence of HIV 2. Estimates for Algeria do not indicate HIV 2 but HIV 1. Furthermore, according to the WHO prevalence of HIV in Algeria is .07% of the population. How can there be such a difference in epidemiology between 2 neighboring countries? My "paranoia" over this issue drove me to call my friend and he told me that he tested for HIV 1/2. Do you have any information that would help me? Is my information correct, and do I need to worry. Thank you so much.

Response from Mr. Kull

For one thing, whether you are talking about HIV-2 or HIV-1, it seems that you are at low risk for HIV infection. Since HIV-1 antibody tests will detect antibodies for HIV-2 about 70% of the time, the chances are greater that you are uninfected.

Without doing a great deal of research, I'm not able to explain the variations in the epidemiological data that you present. It may simply be explained by the way you are interpreting it (is it a 1% prevalence of HIV-2 among the entire population of Mauritania or only among those who are HIV infected?). Or it could be explained by the accuracy of data collection methods in those countries. Who knows (literally, WHO -- the World Health Organization -- would probably know). The only way you can really tell if you've been infected with HIV-2 (which is unlikely) is to have an HIV-2 antibody test.

RMK



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