Answer to a question from a reader

Is my girlfriend at risk of contracting HIV if my viral load has been undetectable for a year and then bounced to 125?

The short answer

Your partner is safe as long as your viral load is less than 200.

The whole question

Dear GroundUp

I’ve been HIV-positive for about a year now and I've also been on treatment for about a year. I tested undetectable in my last viral load test (below 40). Now I tested again and my viral load came back at 125. My doctor explained that a viral blip occurred. I had unprotected vaginal sex with my HIV-negative girlfriend and I’m worried that I may have put her at risk, although we went on post-exposure-prophylaxis immediately. Is my girlfriend at risk of being infected?

The long answer

As long as you have been taking your ARVs carefully, the viral load usually stays undetectable. Low-level blips are common and usually become undetectable again without the need to change treatment. Your partner will still be protected, as this is fine when the viral load is less than 200. Using pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis  is still a good idea if you were worried. This will also reduce the risk of HIV in case this is not a blip. Please check your viral load again after four weeks. Don’t let this go for months in case it is not a blip.

Note: This answer was adapted from a question on i-Base. Here is a link to the original answer:

Wishing you the best,

Answered on May 4, 2023, 1:33 p.m.

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