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the word
Oct 11, 2000

I've been reading a lot of the posts and often people ask about testing -- when should they get it done, after what amount of time, etc. You respond that 6 months after exposure should yield the most accurate results -- 99.9%. Here's my question -- what is considered "exposure" I am in a serodiscordant relationship. We practice safer sex each time we have sex. We use condoms for oral sex, if we have it at all, and we are careful not to kiss if one of has a cut/cold sore. With this being said...Am I exposing myself and should I test every six months? Obviously I am at risk, but am I "exposed" or am I engaging in a semantic debate that I already know the answer to? Thanks in advance.

Response from Mr. Kull

These questions and responses always raise issues of semantics, but I'm glad that you asked this question. In my mind, a sexual exposure would consist of mucous membrane contact with fluids -- semen, blood, and/or vaginal-cervical secretions -- that are implicated in sexual transmission. Anal, vaginal, and receptive oral sex without condoms all constitute exposures that would call for HIV antibody testing. Some people might qualify an exposure as any sexual contact (kissing, receiving oral sex, etc.) regardless of the actual risks involved. I don't think that is always helpful for our dialogue here where we want to separate ACTUAL risks from THEORETICAL risks.

The words don't ultimately matter. Educating yourself about HIV and learning how to measure your own risk is important, especially in your situation. It sounds like you are very careful in your sexual activity, which is great. Take a look at my response to Likelihood of converting from HIV- to HIV+... for more information on your situation.

RMK



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