Q and A


How can I find out if I have HIV-2?

Hi. Could you please provide any information on HIV-1 and HIV-2 dual infection?

I have previously been diagnosed with HIV-1 and on treatment with Efavirenz/Kivexa (abacavir+3TC). For 6 years I have had an undetectable viral load.

How can I test for HIV-2 after recently visiting the Ivory Coast and having unprotected anal sex with several African men?

What are the complications, treatment and prognosis for someone with dual HIV-1 and HIV-2 infection? Thank you in anticipation.



Thank-you for your email. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your concerns.

S/he will be able to run a test to check if you have both HIV-1 and HIV-2.

The prognosis for somebody with dual infection is the same as for somebody with HIV-1. There is a difference in treatment though, because some ARVs are not active against HIV-2. These include all NNRTIs (such as efavirenz and nevirapine) and some PIs such as atazanavir.

Therefore it’s important to raise this with your doctor to make sure that the treatment you are taking is as effective as possible.


  1. Simon Collins


    I am sorry that your partner did not respect your wish to use condoms – this is important to talk about together.

    Reinfection is only a problem if one of you has drug resistant HIV. If neither of you have started treatment yet, then it is unlikely that either of you have drug resistance. In this case reinfection will not affect your long-term health or treatment options.

    The main reason to continue using condoms if you are both positive, is for protection against STIs and pregnancy. But this should be you choice so I hope you are able to work things out.

  2. small

    Is there anyway way to prevent yourself from reinfection after unprotected sex……

    myself and my partner are both positive and we are not yet on medication. He took out the condom without me noticing and now am stressing of getting re infected. ..

    pls help

  3. Rebecca McDowall

    The similar prognosis for HIV-1 infection, and dual HIV-1/HIV-2 infection is reported in the BHIVA guidelines for HIV-2, which base this information on this study. Dual infection is very rare in the UK. I can’t find any evidence or suggestion that treatment of dual infection is less successful, although as I mentioned it does require appropriate treatment.

    I’m sorry to hear that you don’t feel comfortable talking to your consultant. You should be able to be tested at an HIV clinic to check for dual infection which would avoid discussing this with your doctor until you know for sure. If you are unhappy with the care you are receiving it’s important to know that you can change doctor, or clinic, if you want to. You don’t need to give a reason- although this can help if there has been any misunderstanding. This page has more info about what you can expect from relationships with your doctor.

  4. Tom

    I was always under the impression from my HIV consultant that infection with HIV-1 along with HIV-2 would lead to much quicker disease progression, and a drastic reduction in prognosis and life expectancy. Also, that being dual infected with both strains was extremely rare outside of Western Africa and successful HAART treatment was virtually impossible. Unfortunately, I do not feel at ease discussing this issue in detail with my current HIV consultant, as I tend to find that he can be very critical and patronising.