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Risks of transmission with an HIV positive partner

I'm an HIV negative man and have just started a relationship with someone who is HIV positive. He's been on anti-retrovirals for the past 10 years and his HIV load count is undetectable.

I've been told by a friend who is HIV positive that the risks of transmission of HIV is negligible when someone's load count is undetectable.

Can you let me know if this is true?

I'm generally the active partner and would like to stop using condoms when we have anal sex.

Having searched the internet, it seems very difficult to get a straightforward answer to this question.

Thanks,

Charlie
1 Responses
936016 tn?1332769204
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Hi Charlie

Thanks for the interesting question.

There isn't a straight answer.

There is good eveidence that most new cases of HIV result from contact with someone who is relatively recently infected - who tend to have massive HIV viral loads  - ith the 100's of thousands or millions of copies of HIV per ml of blood/semen.

There is also good evidence from Swiss studies that people with undetectable viral loads represent very little if any risk to other people through infection.

Recently the concept of PrEP - Pre Exposure Prophylaxis has arisen - where in serodiscordant couples (one HIV neg and one HIV positive) the negative partner may take a single antiretroviral medication on a long term basis - on the basis that this will help reduce the risk of the negative partner acquiring HIV. The safety of long term medication in otherwise healthy people seems to be established - the effectiveness does not as yet.

If you are to have unprotected anal sex then you need to be comfortable with the possibility that you may acquire a long term chronic illness requiring life long medication and all that that combination may bring.

Being the active partner may subtly influence your risk - but in an undefined way.

Hence - no straight answer!

best wishes, Sean

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