Can you be reinfected with a different strain of HIV?
This is a big question. It gets everyone talking. The brief answer is ‘yes’ – but this has only been documented in a few cases, because it is a very difficult thing to prove, and requires special lab tests that look at the genetic structure of the virus.
Reinfection definitely occurs, but the implications are only serious if the reinfection is with a virus that is resistant to different drugs, or if it is a different HIV subtype. If two HIV-positive people have the same virus (i.e. the same subtype) and have the same resistance pattern, then the implications of reinfection, if it does occur, are less likely to be significant.
Some of the documented cases of reinfection though, have resulted in treatment failure and faster disease progression. This is when one person has been reinfected with drug resistant virus, so it can be serious depending on the details. This question is important for HIV-positve people who want to decide whether they need to use condoms when sleeping with other HIV-positive partners.
In this context, it is important to remember that condoms protect you from some other sexually transmitted infections, and from pregnancy.
If you are in a monogamous relationship though AND you trust your partner AND you have the same sub-type AND you or your partner have not developed different resistance AND pregnancy is not an issues
Information on this website is provided by treatment advocates and offered as a guide only. Decisions about your treatment should always be taken in consultation with your doctor.