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Can explain some statistical points?
Feb 4, 2012

Please doctor I have a really big question. When we come in contact with HIV , there are some researches that claim that the possibility of someone get infected is 1 to 900 incidents. This statistic means that if someone come in contact with HIV 900 times only one time will get infected? Also the thing I would like to ask is if someone come in contact with her positives wife, why some cases refer that the man hadn't infected. The fact is that HIV got in his body but it wasn't infectious or by some extra luck the HIV didn't manage to get inside his body? I would appreciate so much an answer. There are many people out there that have the same questions with me. We are not clinical doctors so all you in the body.com are our greatest help.

Response from Dr. Wohl

You are correct that the risk of a person having sex with an HIV+ individual and getting infected with HIV is uncommon in most circumstances. A recent paper that you are referring to estimates this risk for transmission at around 1 in 900 - meaning about 1 infection for every 900 exposures.

But, importantly, this is a number that is an average and can be higher or lower based on many factors including the level of the virus in the fluids of the HIV+ partner, the type of sex being had, the presence of other sexually transmitted diseases, natural resistance of the HIV_ person to infection among others. An HIV- man having anal sex with a man where the HIV+ person ejaculates in his rectum faces a much higher risk of infection than were he having vaginal sex with an infected woman all else being mostly equal.

This is not that different than pregnancy. A man and woman can have sex many times while a woman is ovulating yet she does not get pregnant.

There are couples where one partner is HIV+ and the other not, despite repeated exposures. This may be a consequence of luck plus any of the factors mentioned above that can reduce the risk of infection.

DW



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