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Ask Dr. K

My partner recently tested positive for HIV. We always had safe sex but I got tested too, and am HIV negative. He feels that we shouldn't be together anymore because he wants to protect me from getting the HIV virus. What are the odds of me contracting it if we practice safe sex?

That’s an important “IF.” That said, with safer sex and good medical care for the HIV-infected partner the risk of spreading HIV is very low. I’ve taken care of many couples where one is HIV-infected and the other is HIV-uninfected and HIV infection has not been spread. Using condoms regularly and plenty of lube are a great way to prevent the spread of HIV. Oral sex is also generally felt to be “safer sex” associated with a very low chance of transmission.. It is best for both partners to speak to the doctor of the partner with HIV infection directly about the risk, what types of sexual activity each enjoys and what can be done to reduce the risk of spreading HIV. Other STDs and not taking anti-HIV medicine can increase the chances of spreading HIV. There is no reason one has to end a good relationship out of fear. See a similar question:

To learn more about HIV, visit For more information on STD testing, visit City Clinic for information about getting tested in San Francisco or call the CDC National Hotline for services near you: 1-800-CDC-INFO.

To your health,
Dr. K

Last modified on Thursday, November 19, 2009.
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