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HIV and AIDS

HIV Transmission From A Positive Individual To Negative Individual

05/03/2005

Question:

Is it possible to not pass HIV to my spouse? We have had unprotected sex for 6 months after my exposure and she is still testing negative.

Answer:

Not all persons who have unprotected sexual intercourse with an HIV-infected partner will develop HIV-infection. Each sexual encounter has a set chance (or odds) that infection will be transmitted. The more often that exposure occurs over time with numerous sexual encounters, the more likely a sexual partner is to eventually convert from HIV-negative to HIV-positive status.

There is a scientific term for those sexual pairs where one partner is HIV-negative and one is HIV-positive; this term is a discordant pair. Conversion can occur at any time during recurrent exposure, as it only requires one successful episode of transmission.

When searching the internet for information about this phenomenon, knowing this term may be helpful. For persons who are HIV-infected and who have sexual partners who are HIV-negative, it is advisable for both partners to receive counseling both individually and as a couple about HIV transmission and risks.

A personal physician for either or both partners, may be able to more accurately estimate risk of transmission of HIV from the infected partner to the uninfected partner based on specific knowledge of both partners' medical histories.

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Response by:

Stephen   Kralovic, MD Stephen Kralovic, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati