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InActive HIV
Dec 27, 2008

I am unsure how to explain this but I will try to be as precise as possible. I am a sexually active lesbian. I have had an encounter with someone who has explained a rare case of HIV to me. I have done research but not finding an answers and I am in hopes you can help. The story goes as follows. The female was tested 10 years ago when she was found to be pregnant. Her HIV test showed positive. She began drug treatment so that she would not transmit to unborn child which was successful as I am told. She proceeds to tell me that she in fact still test positive for HIV but it is non transferable to another. The antibodies have not multiplied so the test she states show. Basically she says they have never multiplied and only an extensive blood test show this. She also goes to state her doctor has informed her it is a very rare case and she need not to worry about infecting another person nor be on meds for it. That her initial contact must have been so slight and the drugs taken during pregnancy must have stopped it in its tracks that there was no other explanation as to why it has been to show inactive in bllod work. So the real question here is, can someone truely carry HIV but not be contagious? Can they honestly have this virus yet their body fight it off? I am just baffled with this! Thank you for our time.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Either your friend is confused (hopefully) or she is lying to get in your pants (hopefully not).

If indeed she is HIV positive, she is indeed still capable of transmitting the virus to others. You mention "the antibodies have not multiplied so the test she states show." the presence or absence of anti-HIV antibodies merely indicates whether someone is HIV infected. They do not "multiply," nor do they give any indication of infectiousness. Perhaps you or she was referring to the virus itself multiplying. It is possible her HIV plasma viral load has remained reasonably stable, but that doesn't mean she is noninfectious! "Slight initial contacts" or "drugs taken during pregnancy" do not affect HIV transmissibility.

To answer your specific questions:

1. ". . . Can someone truly carry HIV but not be contagious?" The answer is no.

2. Can someone have the virus and yet fight it off? No, there have been no HIV cures. A small portion of HIVers are able to control viral replication without needing antiretroviral drugs. These folks are called "elite controllers." You can read about them in the archives. Even though they "control" the virus, it does not mean they are noninfectious. Please clarify this issue with your gal-pal.

Good luck to you both.

Dr. Bob



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