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Dec 27, 2001


In the Padian Study, I believe the likelihood of a woman passing HIV to a man for one act of sex was 1 in 9000. And also in this 10 year study, no one seroconverted. How is it possible to say that HIV/AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease and that we all need to practice safe sex to prevent it? (I do believe in condom use though for such diseases like syphillus/hepatitis etc. which are easily transmitted between both sexes.)

Response from Dr. Aberg

Padian's studies have been very intriguing and are helping us to understand factors associated with the transmission of HIV. What you need to recognize is that her cohorts are pre-selected. In other words, couples that are known to be discordant (one positive and one negative)are further characterized so not all couples are included in the analysis. Unfortunately there are thousands of couples in which both are positive. Studying couples in which one partner remains unifected provide us with valuable insight in how the virus is transmitted. We already know that the chance of acquiring HIV is not 100% with every sexual encounter. Multiple factors are involved including the amount of virus in the genital secretions, the integrity of the mucosal lining of the genital tract, presence of other STD's, the individual's immune response, the properties of that particular virus, etc. We do know that HIV is transmitted sexually and one cannot predict what the actual risk is for any one event. The question one should ask is if it is the worth the risk. Some people may argue that STD's are treatable and curable but they can cause serious consequences such as infertility and abscesses around the tubes/ovaries in women. HIV is treatable but cannot be cured. I would argue that it is better to practice safer sex practices than rsik acquiring HIV.

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