Q: My name is……… I have a problem and I kindly seek for your assistance. I’m 43yrs old and all along I was HIV negative. From October, I have been sleeping with an HIV positive lady who did not tell me that she was positive and only discovered it yesterday. What steps should I take for my health?
A: I am a bit worried at this trend of questions. I have received at least one per month for the past 4 months. Ordinarily, I would refer this person to the link to this post in my blog but now feel I should put it out here for more people to read. People, knowledge is power in many ways – ‘knowing’ the person you plan to have sexual relations with and knowing how to protect yourself! There are many resources on my blog, ‘www.chatwithdrketch.com’. Please, y’all be careful! As much as HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence, you do not want to expose yourself to unnecessary risks.
And my answer? Re-produced from my earlier post on this.
Is it possible to get infected with HIV the first time or several times after having sexual intercourse with someone who is infected? Yes, it is. Is it possible to be HIV negative when my partner is positive? Yes, it is. Couples with different HIV statuses are called sero-discordant couples. It is possible to have sexual intercourse with a partner living with HIV/AIDS and remain uninfected. Several studies have been conducted to find out why and different reasons provided for this include:
- Reduced frequency of sexual intercourse especially in the face of sexual promiscuity
- Possibility of inherent resistance to the virus
- Male circumcision
- Patients on anti-retroviral therapy with an undetectable viral load are highly unlikely to infect their sexual partners
It is important though, to go to a proper testing center to confirm that the results you have received thus far are valid. Generally, if the initial test is negative, a repeat test is done 3 months after the exposure to ‘close the window’. Some may stretch this to a further screen after 6 months. Be guided by your doctor. If you are still confirmed negative, then the focus turns to next steps.
Of course, there’s always a risk in having a sexual relationship with someone who is HIV positive if you’re sero-negative. However, it is no longer the death sentence that we used to think it was and indeed, you don’t necessarily need to become infected if you follow some basic rules:
Ensure that your partner takes her anti-retroviral drugs to reduce her viral load and reduce the risk of infecting you.
However, even with the above, you still need to wear condoms while having sexual intercourse with her.
If there is an accidental exposure, like a broken condom during intercourse, be sure to use post exposure prophylaxis. These drugs used to treat HIV are usually taken daily for about 4 weeks to reduce chances of becoming HIV positive.
You can also commit to taking a tablet everyday as part of the pre-exposure prophylaxis. This prophylaxis is essentially tablets used to treat HIV and can reduce the risk of contracting HIV. Remember that this should be used alongside condoms when having sexual intercourse.
Be sure to also test for HIV and other STDS at least once a year.
Now that you know your partner’s status, you must take every step to remain sero-negative. Knowledge is power!
All the best J