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Am I immune?

Jan 7, 1998

My partner & I have been in a monogamous relationship since 1982. Prior to then, I had no significant sexual exposure, but he was sexually active. Since then, we have had all types of unprotected sexual contact (both of us passive & active orally & anally) with lots of bodily fluids exchanged (swallowed semen, ejaculating in rectum after torn tissues left me bloody, etc.). We were fairly active (sex 3-4 times weekly). Neither of us had other partners since 1982.

We had avoided HIV testing hoping we had gotten together soon enough to avoid infection. Six months ago, my partner had an infection which turned out to be PCP. He had AIDS, & his doctor estimated that he was infected in the late 1970's. He is doing well on triple combo & is now undetectable.

Through all that, I am still negative on two HIV tests, six months apart. My doctor thinks I may be immune to the HIV carried by my partner, but still thinks we should practice safe sex. I would like to stop using condoms. After all, I've survived literally thousands of exposures. Are there tests that can establish immunity to certain strains of HIV?

Most safe sex info doesn't address this type of situation, & I don't think I'm deluding myself in thinking that the typical advice doesn't apply in my situation.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. To date, there is no evidence that anyone is truly immune to HIV. However, there are several possibilities as to why your tests thus far are negative.

1) If you were just recently infected (within the previous 6 months), your test may not have yet shown positive.

2) You are not infected and you have been VERY lucky thus far.

3) You may have a genetic mutation in your body that makes it more difficult (but not impossible) for HIV to infect you. For an example of what I am talking about here, see the posting, "Genetically not predisposed to HIV infection." Such an occurrence would be rare, but you may be one of those few lucky people. However, do not depend on luck to protect you.

Unless your partner was previously tested for HIV, it is very difficult to know exactly how long he has been infected. If he has PCP (Pneumocystis Pneumonia), he has probably been infected for a number of years, but we cannot say exactly how many years. This is because different people progress from HIV to AIDS, at different rates.

It is extremely important that you practice safer sex with him. If you don't, your luck may run out, and you may find yourself HIV positive as well.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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