Oct 16, 2004
Last week my husband told me that he is bisexual and has had unprotected sexual encounters with 2 different men over that last 3 months, the last encounter only 2 weeks ago. He swears there was no anal sex. Not knowing this, I have also had unprotected sex with him in this period. He took an HIV test 4 weeks after the 1st encounter, which was negative and does not believe that he is HIV+ from the last encounter, but will be re-tested in a couple of weeks. In the event that his test is positive, could you tell me how long it takes for a newly infected individual to acquire the ability to infect others?
Response from Dr. Lee
A newly infected individual may actually infect others immediately. The ability to infect another person is related to the amount of active virus in the body fluid and that varies in part on the timing of the disease. In early disease, prior to the development of an immune response, there may be very high viral levels and thus the infection may be more contagious.
Your husband may want to ask his doctor how likely it is that he is infected. Most individuals who become HIV infected have an illness within a week or so of infection which closely resembles the "flu" or even "mono". If your husband has not been ill and has had one negative test, it is less likely that he has been infected. (THis is not to say it is safe to have unprotected sex, but you may be a little less frightened while waiting for further tests.)
Good for your husband for coming out to you about his secret! Hopefully the two of you can work on negotiating safe sex practices to ensure both of your continued well-being.
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