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Don't know partners status
Feb 10, 2014

Been diagnosed positive for 13years and I don't know if my partner of 12 years is negative or not. We have never tested together nor spoken about our statuses.Could he be infected by me even though I'm on treatment?

Response from Ms. Southall

Hi Let's start first with: HIV transmission can only occur when there is a direct and prolonged exposure to body fluids, semen, vaginal fluid, blood or mother to child through breast feeding. This most commonly occurs through unprotected vaginal or anal sex and sharing of needles. Casual contact, sharing utensils, drinking after someone, etc are not way for HIV transmission to occur. If you go to this link HIV101 it will take you to our page that talks about the ways in which HIV is and is not transmitted.

Next the question about being on treatment: In the research conducted so far, there have been no recorded HIV transmissions among heterosexual couples where the HIV-positive partner is on treatment and their blood viral load is undetectable. However, this does not mean the risk through condomless sex is zero. All of the couples studied to date have also reported using condoms often. This makes it difficult to determine the risk of HIV transmission when no condom is used.

Although there have been no studies among gay men and other MSM, there has been one report of HIV transmission occurring between two men when the HIV-positive partner had an undetectable viral load.

Also, the risk of HIV transmission when the viral load is undetectable may not be the same for all types of sex. This risk may be higher for anal sex than for vaginal sex, particularly if the HIV-negative partner is the receptive partner (bottom) during anal sex. This is because receptive anal sex generally carries a higher baseline HIV risk than other types of sex.

There are ongoing studies following serodiscordant heterosexual and same-sex couples who are taking HIV treatment, have an undetectable viral load, and do not always use condoms. These studies will provide a better understanding of the risk of HIV transmission when the viral load is undetectable.

On a personal note, my husband is negative and I'm positive. I'm undetectable and we have been together for 7 years. There are times when we opt to not use condoms, but we are both on the same page about the risk and that I won't do anything unprotected if my viral load is detectable. He is also tested about every 6 months. It is also important to know your partners status as it is possible to be reinfected and you can be infected with a mutation of the virus that your medication will not work on and vice versa for your partner. Knowing your status is incredibly important so that you both stay on top of your health and can live a long and happy healthy life!

Be well and stay safe, Shannon



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