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HIV and AIDS

How Much Risk Am I Taking Dating An HIV Positive Man?

02/13/2006

Question:

I am HIV negative and am considering dating an HIV positive man. How much of a risk am I taking? What can I do to protect myself? What`s the difference between HIV positive and AIDS? Thank you.

Answer:

HIV+ means that a person has been infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and that the person is potentially contagious under certain circumstances.  AIDS is the deterioration of the immune system that HIV causes, usually after a person has been infected for a number of years.  AIDS is diagnosed when a person's T cells (one of the types of white blood cells in the blood stream) falls below 200, or when certain unusual infections or cancers develop in a person with HIV.

HIV is spread sexually.  Studies have shown that condom use decreases the risk of transmission, but does not make the risk zero.  It would be worthwhile for you to speak to your physician, or accompany your potential boyfriend to one of his physician visits, to obtain specific information on this and other ways to avoid contracting HIV.

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Response by:

Peter Grubbs, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati