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Undetectable...is it safe?
Jul 29, 2008

I was infected with HIV in Dec 2005 and started Atripla(my choice) in Nov 2007. Within a month, my viral load was undetectable...and still that way. My question is, does that mean there is no virus in my blood and sperm?...just in my lymph nodes? Can someone swallow my sperm and not worry? Can I have unprotected anal sex with a negative person and be assured they're not at risk? Thanks.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

"Undetectable" does not mean there is no virus in the blood and ejaculate. Nor does it mean you are no longer contagious. Undetectable refers to the plasma viral load, a test that measures viral replication. When antiretroviral therapy is effective, as in your case, it can drive the HIV viral load down to levels that are below the limits of detection for that specific test. It does not man that HIV is no longer present or capable of being transmitted. Safer sex precautions remain imperative, even when the HIV plasma viral load is undetectable. You can read more about HIV-monitoring tests in the archives of this forum.

Dr. Bob



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