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How often should I test?

Oct 31, 2003

Hi Dr. Bob:

It has been mentioned in your forum that there are not a lot of questions from heterosexual women. Well, I have sent a number of questions, but they have never been answered so here's another one for you. I am in a relationship with an HIV+ man; I am an HIV- woman. We are extremely careful and always use latex condoms and lubricant. However, I always get anxious afterwards. Could you please tell me how often I should get tested for HIV? Should I not be concerned unless we have a condom "accident" or other significant exposure? I live on the west coast of Canada and PEP is not available for someone in my situation, but I am trying to find a way around this since I think it is absolutely discriminatory.

Thank you in advance for your response. I read your forum daily and whenever I am in "anxiety mode" I am able to turn to it for reassurance. Thanks for being there!


Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Laurissa,

Yes, it does seem like the guys submit way more questions. I guess they really aren't paying attention in sex education class nearly as much as the gals.

How often should you get tested? Well, only you can determine that based on your potential risk. What I can tell is that HIV cannot pass through a properly used latex condom.

If a condom fails and you have a significant exposure, PEP should indeed be available to you. Did you talk to your boyfriend's HIV specialist about this? He (or your local emergency room) should be willing to prescribe it for you.

I have recently answered several questions pertaining to magnetic couples (one HIV-positive, the other HIV-negative). Review my responses to those questions. They will hopefully help to quell some of your post-sex anxieties. Also, please note, I too am in a situation like yours. Steve (The Body's expert in the Tratamientos Forum) is negative and I'm positive. We've been together for a decade. If your relationship can work out anything like ours, you'll be one very lucky and contented lady! We don't "get anxious afterwards," but rather enjoy the afterglow snuggle or get up and have ice cream. I'd strongly suggest either of these options over the anxious feelings!

So, my advice, in brief, is review the information in my previous posts on this topic, negotiate safer sex boundaries that are agreeable to both you and your boyfriend, arrange for PEP in the unlikely case of an "accident," and ditch the post-coital worries in favor of a warm snuggle and/or cold ice cream! Stay well.

Dr. Bob

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