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Transmission of HIV to partner
Dec 19, 1996

Many thanks for taking the time to consider my question. I have has a long-term monogamous gay relationship with the same person for 12 years. When we met the safe sex message was just being formulated so we had (very) unsave sex on our first meeting and have continued to have unsafe sex on the premise that if one of us was infected then we BOTH would be infected. 12 years later I was diagnosed as having PCP and a tcell count of 20, after which I discovered I was HIV positive (surprise, surprise). My partner was tested and to our surprise was NEGATIVE! The clinic which I go to says that we should just carry on what we were doing but I would prefer to be more safe about things as I could not bear to transmit the virus to my worst enemy let alone the person that I love. His (my partners) feeling is that we should carry on as normal. Could you please make some suggestions. Many thanks for your time and good work on this page.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

I was truly shocked that a clinic would say that it's OK for you and your partner to continue having unsafe sex, especially with you being positive and your partner being negative! That's very scary, and a threat to your partners health! Yes, your partner tests negative now. But remember 2 things: First, if your partner has been infected for less than 6 months, his infection may not as yet shown positive on an antibody test. Second, if you partner isn't yet infected, it could be the very next time that you have unsafe sex, that you infect him.

The other thing to consider is that if your partner were to have another viral STD (like herpes, genital warts, Hepatitis B etc. etc.) and you continue to have unsafe sex with him, he could infect you with the STD now. A viral STD is lifelong. If you partner got infected with a viral STD years ago (even before the 2 of you got together), he may still be able to infect you today. If you get an STD now, in persons with HIV/AIDS, other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's) can be much more serious! If your partner has other STD's (assuming he has other partners), if you continue to have unprotected sex, he can infect you, which can significantly affect your health. If there is even a chance that your partner has another sex partner (or needle sharing partner), then safer sex becomes even more important.

There is the small possibility that your partner may be that small 1% of people who may have a genetic defect in their body that prevents them from becoming infected with HIV (See my answer entitled, Genetically not predisposed HIV infection Dated 12/6/96" for more information). However, since this protective mutation is rare, it is unlikely that he's protected, and he could become infected at any time. He may have been very lucky these past 12 years. Sooner or later, his luck may run out! Think about it!

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



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