Q and A

Question

Is reinfection a risk if two HIV positive people are undetectable?

What are the risk involved in two HIV+ people in a couple who are both on medications and are undetectable to re infect each other during sex without a condom?

One partner (myself) has been living with HIV for a decade while my partner has been living with it less than 6 months.

I read re infection tends to be more common within the first few years of infection.

So what does the science say about two undetectable people having condomless sex?

Answer

Hi

Thanks for your question.

The two main risks from not using a condom are pregnancy and other STIs.

If these are not a concern for you, then there is no risk. This is mainly because having an undetectable viral load on treatment makes you so dramatically less infectious that HIV transmission becomes zero risk.

Even if reinfection occurred, due to viral rebound, this would only be important if one of you had drug resistance. Because your viral loads are both undetectable, neither of you have resistance to your current meds.

So long as you continue to take meds carefully and not miss doses, there is no reason that you will develop resistance in the future either.

Although it can seem strange if you are used to using condoms, many people in your situation find that not having to always use condoms can have a positive impact on their quality of life.

Please see the reports from 2017 saying that U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable). This shows that HIV cannot be transmitted even if you don’t use condoms.

This Q&A was updated in July 2019 to an answer posted in September 2014.

30 comments

  1. Roy Trevelion

    Hi, What country is this please? It could help Rhudzani if we know.

  2. unknown

    Rhudzani at the clinics it’s for free to check ur viral load

  3. Roy Trevelion

    Hi to you both, As Simon says on this question above there is little risk of reinfection. So although it can seem strange if you are used to using condoms, many people in your situation find that not having to always use condoms can have a positive impact on their quality of life.

  4. unknown

    My man and I we both positive,and we both taking medication.are we on risk if we both not using protection?

  5. Simon Collins

    Hi Rhudzani, I am sorry that I don’t know the costs in different countries.

  6. Rhudzani

    How much does it costs to do Viral load tests?

  7. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Jay,

    If your viral load is undetectable your husband isn’t at risk of contracting HIV from you. For more info, please see here:

    http://i-base.info/htb/32308

  8. Jay

    Hi, I was diagnosed hiv+ in April 2017. My husband has had regular testing and still shows neg. I’m currently on treatment and my viral load has been undetectable for few months. He really hates using condoms, but I’m so scared of transmitting it to him. It is starting to strain our relationship. :’(
    How can I help explain why condoms are important to continue using to him? Or am I wrong in thinking it is a “must”?

  9. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Pearl,

    Thanks for the positive feedback.

  10. Pearl

    Hi. Just a comment. I’m a pharmacist and I am very grateful to come across a website that is so informative to the public. Often, people don’t know where to go and ask questions and get clear answers. Answers here are legit and clear. Well done.

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