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I am HIV positive and my wife is pregnant, what should I do?

Saturday, 23 September 2006
Answered by: Dr. L.M. Nath
Consultant, Community Medicine,

New Delhi
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Q. I am a 31 years old engineer working in a private company. I had unprotected sex 3 months ago. I got scared and last week when I went for HIV test, it came out positive. I am so depressed and annoyed with myself. The most annoying thing is that 2 month ago I had sex with my wife & she is 9 months pregnant. I am very scared about my wife & my baby. What should I do now? Recently I went though an AIDS website, where they are claiming that they can cure AIDS. Is it true, should I go for the treatment?

A.  Your letter does not tell me what test you had and how many tests. If only 1 test was done, than first get another test. If the second test is negative then stop worrying, you are most probably not infected. Remember that a single test can sometimes give a false positive result and a diagnosis should never be made with one test. If two tests were done, and both were positive, then you are correct in assuming that you have a HIV infection. At this moment in time there is no known cure for HIV, however there are many things that can be done to ensure that you have a long productive life ahead of you. People who promise a cure, that is an elimination of the infection from the body, are either ignorant or trying to take advantage of the helplessness of those infected. Please be very careful of such cures and take your decision after gathering adequate information. If you are infected then you need to take your wife into confidence and get her tested also. Just because you had unprotected sex with her does not mean that she will necessarily be infected also. Of course, it is possible that she is infected. Even if she is infected, there is only about a 30% chance that she will pass the infection to the unborn child. Fortunately we do have medicines that greatly reduce the chance of the baby getting the infection -- there are several choices and the decision can be taken once you know the need for it. Abortion is not a choice as she is 9 months pregnant. Please do not have unprotected sex with anybody now. Not even your wife, not even if she is also positive. Therefore:
  • First get a repeat test if two tests were not done initially
  • If positive, get your wife tested also
  • If she is positive, discuss the need for antiretroviral treatment to protect the child
  • Do not rush into taking anti-retroviral drugs yourself. This is important.
  • A.  Your letter does not tell me what test you had and how many tests. If only 1 test was done, than first get another test. If the second test is negative then stop worrying, you are most probably not infected. Remember that a single test can sometimes give a false positive result and a diagnosis should never be made with one test. If two tests were done, and both were positive, then you are correct in assuming that you have a HIV infection. At this moment in time there is no known cure for HIV, however there are many things that can be done to ensure that you have a long productive life ahead of you. People who promise a cure, that is an elimination of the infection from the body, are either ignorant or trying to take advantage of the helplessness of those infected. Please be very careful of such cures and take your decision after gathering adequate information. If you are infected then you need to take your wife into confidence and get her tested also. Just because you had unprotected sex with her does not mean that she will necessarily be infected also. Of course, it is possible that she is infected. Even if she is infected, there is only about a 30% chance that she will pass the infection to the unborn child. Fortunately we do have medicines that greatly reduce the chance of the baby getting the infection -- there are several choices and the decision can be taken once you know the need for it. Abortion is not a choice as she is 9 months pregnant. Please do not have unprotected sex with anybody now. Not even your wife, not even if she is also positive. Therefore:
  • First get a repeat test if two tests were not done initially
  • If positive, get your wife tested also
  • If she is positive, discuss the need for antiretroviral treatment to protect the child
  • Do not rush into taking anti-retroviral drugs yourself. This is important.
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