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"Don't know how I got HIV"

Jan 22, 2012

Every now and then I come across a story of a person who claims he/she does not know how they got HIV. They claim not to be drug users, promiscuous, high risk etc. This has me worried. What if I end up getting HIV through some bizarre way I cannot explain? Are these people simply lying/ashamed/mistaken? Some may even blame it on a dentists visit. Is this possible? I am only 17 and I've only had sex once and it was protected. This whole HIV thing is scaring me into near celibacy. I want to get tested based on my one encounter, but then again I don't think I can go through with it. I'm not sure what my exact question is, I guess i'm just seeking words of comfort. Thank you!

Response from Dr. Wohl

Fortunately, you can have sex and not get HIV. Almost every person who acquires HIV knows how they got it or can narrow it down. This is not a virus that is easy to get. It does not live well outside the body, is not spread through the air and requires contact with receptive shiny surfaces of the body.

I am unsure what to make of those who say they do not know where they got HIV. But, I can tell you that your vow of chastity to protect yourself from HIV seems overboard. There are other great ways to stay safe from infection. Being in a monogamous relationship with some one who is HIV negative carries no risk. In other circumstances, condoms work. So, therefore, sex with a person who is HIV positive can be safe if a condom is used. Not sharing needles works. Staying HIV negative does not have to be hard work.


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