Anonymous
Hi, my name is Fem and I live in south Africa. My wife has been positive for like 3 years and I am negative. She is taking her medications regularly and I am not taking any medication. We have a 10 weeks baby girl that is negative. My question is, is it safe for me to continue having sex with my wife without any medications? Second, she is breast feeding, can I such her breast and drink the milk from her breast? Please advice.
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Anonymous
Hi there, and thanks a lot for contacting the AIDS Vancouver Helpline for your HIV/AIDS related health information. It seems you're concerned about the possibility of HIV transmitting through some activities. We're happy to answer your questions.

Important to consider overall is that because your wife is regularly taking medication, the levels of the virus in her blood are likely so low that they are what is termed "undetectable." HIV positive individuals who are undetectable have a very low risk of transmitting the virus. That said, you still might want to engage in the safest activities as possible with your wife so as to minimise the risk of transmission. Using a condom, for example, can further decrease the risk of any transmission taking place. In fact, using a condom during intercourse is considered a low risk activity, meaning that transmissions have been shown to occur only in select circumstances (like when the condom breaks, for example).

As for the breast milk question, the virus is found in breast milk. That said, there is still very little, or no risk of the virus being transferred to you, as sucking on her breasts or even drinking breast milk does not provide access to your bloodstream. The virus itself is very fragile, and is rendered unable to be transmitted after being exposed to saliva, for example. To understand that point check out our transmission equation, which outlines all that is required for a transmission to occur:
HIV TRANSMISSION EQUATION


BODY FLUID
+
ACTIVITY
+
DIRECT ACCESS TO BLOODSTREAM
---------- -------- ----------------------------
• blood (including menstrual) • unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse • vagina
• semen • sharing needles • anus
• pre-cum • mother to child (in specific cases) • urethra in the penis
• rectal secretions • open cuts and sores (in theory)
• vaginal fluids • other mucosal membranes
• breast milk • points of needle injection
Thanks for contacting the AIDS Vancouver Helpline with your questions. We hope they have been answered fully.

Trevor

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online

helpline.aidsvancouver.org
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