This week at an HIV conference in San Francisco, investigators provided long-awaited information on the incidence of sexually-acquired HIV superinfection. In lay man’s terms, “superinfection” occurs when someone is infected twice with HIV, but with slightly different strains (versions) of HIV than the first infection. In a recent study on a group of people newly diagnosed with HIV, 5% of them had multiple strains of HIV in their bodies. Not good.
Scientists currently believe this 5% rate of superinfections actually occur every year. But how these superinfections occur is still unclear; it is not known whether these men were infected with multiple versions of HIV from just one encounter, or if they picked each strain up from various encounters. (All reported multiple sexual partners.)
No matter how you get it, fighting off one strain of the virus with your HIV drugs is hard enough; having to make two separate drug regimens work for you is a recipe for disaster.
This news certainly gives us pause–and gives everyone one more reason to keep playing safely. Some men who are HIV-positive engage in unprotected sex with each other, thinking that they have nothing to lose. And while there have been no cases of superinfection in HIV-positive people taking meds (yet) with this news, logical though leads one to believe it is still a really, really bad idea.
So keep playing safe out there folks. Spring is in the air, and men of virile nature have a tendency to want to sow some oats this time of year. But remember that Mom always said to “bring a raincoat,” so be sure to use it!
HIV Infection/Disease Superinfection [MedAdvocates]
Dual HIV Infection [TheBody]
Superinfection in men not on HIV therapy [AIDSMap]
(Provided by Positive Living, a gay, HIV-positive friend of Queerty)