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safe sex with HIV + partner
Dec 15, 2001

Ryan,

I have a partner who is HIV+ (we are both male) and I am HIV -. When speaking to my doctor about testing and safe sex. He told me as long as we wear condoms for anal sex and for when I perform oral sex on him, there's no reason to test more than my anual physical unless something out of the ordinay happens. He also told me it was okay for my partner to perform oral sex on me without a condom....I know that HIV testing is not recomended for people who recieve oral sex, I was just wondering if that changes if you know that your partner IS HIV+? or is it always assumed that someone is HIV+ when stating a risk factor? It's not that I don't think I have a good doctor, I just know he's not an HIV specialist. Thanks for your help.

Response from Mr. Kull

You're right to think that we are assuming that one partner is HIV positive when talking about risk factors. There is really no point in talking about the risk of transmission if the people having sex are all HIV negative.

Your doctor's opinion seems sound. There is no evidence that people get infected when receiving oral sex from an infected person. Saliva is not a fluid that is implicated in transmission (this is also why we don't see transmission happening through kissing).

Also, condoms can be extremely effective in preventing the transmission of HIV. A study conducted among heterosexual mixed-HIV-status couples demonstrated that all 123 couples who used condoms every time for four years prevented transmission of HIV. In 122 couples who did not use condoms every time, 12 partners became infected. Another study showed that using condoms every time prevented HIV transmission for all but two of 171 women who had male partners with HIV. However eight out of 10 women whose partners didn't use condoms every time became infected. While this does not speak specifically to anal sex, the studies do demonstrate the condoms ability to prevent transmission of HIV during intercourse.

Even though condoms are highly effective in preventing transmission, decisions to get tested are ultimately going to be up to you. Being in a mixed-status relationship can create anxiety about HIV transmission and testing can sometimes alleviate that anxiety about the unknown.

RMK



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