I have HIV, can I contract other HIV strains?
Joseph a 23-year-old student is living with HIV. He recently had unprotected sex with an HIV-positive person. Can he contract another type or strain of HIV?
If you are living with HIV and have unprotected sex, be it anal sex or vaginal sex, with someone living with HIV and who has not achieved undetectable status, you can be reinfected with a different HIV strain.
Superinfection is another term for HIV reinfection.
The new strain of HIV can either replace or coexist with the old strain.
Because the new virus strain is resistant to the medication that you are currently taking (antiretroviral treatment, or ART) you may become sicker more quickly as a result of superinfection.
The good news is that it can be managed. Superinfection that is difficult to manage is uncommon.
What can I do to avoid reinfection?
To avoid reinfection, you should always engage in safe sex. Always use and insist on using a condom whenever you have sex.
Taking ART correctly and consistently as per the doctor’s prescription can help keep someone from developing a superinfection.
You and your partner will not transmit HIV to each other during sex if you both have HIV and maintain an undetectable viral load.
If you have already had unprotected intercourse, discuss your fears of reinfection with your doctor. With this information, your doctor will be able to determine the next measures to take.