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please help me
Jan 26, 2004

my ex fiancee called me up and told me to go to the doctor because he has hiv. i had been sleeping with him un protected for 2 years of our three year relationship, im so scared, what are the chances of me not having hiv. i dont know if he is hiv+ or just hiv. and if i do have hiv+ how long will it be before my body will start to shut down?

Response from Dr. Lee

There are so many issues related to your risk, (such as when he was infected, how much virus is active in his system, how his immune system is affected, etc.) that it is difficult to give you specific answers.

It is important, of course, that you be tested soon. If you test negative- rejoice and use safer sex to stay that way! If your test is positive for HIV, it will be important to see what your CD4 (T4) lymphocyte level is and how much virus is active in your body (and HIV viral "load"). These levels can be interpreted by your physician to answer some of your questions.

Although you may find statistics are helpful when trying to decide the best options for treatment, they are rarely helpful in the situation you are describing. Why? Because statistics generally apply to populations and are only useful in certain situations for individuals. Let's say the chance that Pat will get HIV from an exposure was only 1 in 100, but Pat is now HIV infected from that 1 in 100 chance. Pat got it. So, Pat's individual chance of getting it was 100% not 1%. In this individual case it doesn't matter that 99 others didn't get it.

So, it is hard to tell you what your chances are. It is important that you be tested.

Your last question about how long before you would get sick if you are infected is also a tough one. Again there are so many variables. IT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO KNOW THAT HIV IS TREATABLE! Although there is no cure, there are medicines that really make a difference in how long and how well people live with the disease. Again, it is important to get specific with an HIV-knowledgable doctor. Good luck to you!


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