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Tattoos
Jul 13, 2001

My husband of 10 years was recently found to be HIV+ (6 months ago). Since then he has been diagnosed with PCP, MAC, Thrush & Kaposi's Sarcoma. I have been tested 2x and Im negative. Since the diagnosis, we have been racking our brains to try to figure out how he got this. He is a hetrosexual male and has been faithful to me since we have been together (I have absolutely NO DOUBTS about that). His dr. told him that apparently he has had this for quite sometime. We have been racking our brains, trying to figure out how he is positive. The only thing that we can even try to pinpoint this to is that he has gotten 4 tattoos & 2 body piercings since we have been together. Although we thought that we were in a sterile shop, could this possibly be a way that this was transmitted to him - through one of the needles used? No matter how he got this, we will work through it & treat it together. Thanks for any advice/answers that you can give me.

Response from Mr. Kull

Many HIV infected people, especially ones who are recently diagnosed, engage in exactly what you and your partner are doing: attempting to figure out how, where, and when they got infected. Many people cannot figure this out, and it can be highly frustrating. There could be several reasons why finding out the origin of infection may feel important: it can give us an outlet for our anger, create a sense of order to a chaotic experience, or maybe vindicate us from any feelings of guilt or responsibility. We need to try to understand and put meaning around those things--disease, death, disaster--that are not always possible to comprehend.

The CDC has never documented a case of HIV transmission through tattooing or piercing, though transmission is clearly possible. Hepatitis has been transmitted through these procedures. It is possible that your husband was infected through this. It is also possible that your husband--though I don't know his history--was infected prior to your marriage ten years ago. People can take ten to twelve years to develop AIDS-related illnesses, and some may take even longer.

This must be a difficult experience for the both of you. I encourage you and your husband to get some social and psychological support to help you work through this period of your life.

RMK



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