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Likelihood of infection with high viral load, protected versus unprotected vaginal intercourse
Aug 18, 2012

I am a female who engaged in one episode of protected heterosexual sex with a male of an unknown status. He did not finish inside of me because I asked him not to do so. A couple days after the incident, he told me he had a fever and felt ill. This, of course, sent me on edge because I don't know his detailed history. My major questions are as follow 1.) What are the chances of acquiring HIV through one act of protected or unprotected sex if the viral load of the partner is very high, like during an acute infection? 2.) Do you think that it would have been obvious if the condom had failed? I did not notice anything, but I am fairly inexperienced, and therefore would be unfamiliar with detecting a condom failure. 3.) If one has a healthy, strong immune system, is it possible to drive out the virus before it sustains itself in the body? I am having pressing anxiety and it is causing relentless distraction in my life. Waiting three months for a test result confirmation seems like an eternity. Thank you for your time.

Response from Ms. Southall

Hi Thanks for the question and I hope to put your mind at ease! 1. Protected sex is obviously the best way to prevent transmission of any type of sexually transmitted infection. The chances of HIV transmission increase with a higher viral load and that is with both protected and unprotected sex. 2. I believe yes you would have noticed if the condom had torn or fallen off during sex, but again it's not a guarantee. 3. Having a healthy immune system is great, but no that alone does not protect against HIV. Having unprotected sex no matter your health puts you at risk.

Testing: The guidelines for HIV testing are to be initially tested at 3 weeks then again at 3 months, if both of these tests are negative then so are you, as long as there were no other types of exposure during that 3 month period, if so then the timing starts over again. I agree that 3 months seems like a long time but getting tested at 3 weeks then again at 3 months will ensure you will know your status and since your experience was protected the likelihood of HIV transmission occurring is very small but getting tested is important.

Be well and stay safe, Shannon



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