The doctor was super duper extremely positive and optimistic about the outlook for me and a partner in a serodiscordant relationship. To give the clearest picture of what was discussed, here is an outline of some of the ideas she presented:
- With continued medication and Undetectable Viral Load, I have the same life expectancy as any other normal person. There is no reason to expect my Viral Load or health to change or diminish over time as long as I continue to take my meds regularly. As I age, I will have no more/greater health concerns than the average person. The only difference between me and any person sitting next to me is that I take a pill each night.
- HIV is a very hard virus to catch- it is not as contagious or easily transmitted as other viruses (Hepatitis, etc.). Even with direct blood to blood contact, the percentages of transmission are very low.
- With an Undetectable Viral Load it would be very difficult for me to pass it on. I am not really all that contagious since I have very little HIV in me to begin with.
- Female to Male transmission is much less likely than Male to Female transmission. Semen contains a much higher viral load than vaginal fluids. Vaginal fluids typically contain very low amounts of HIV.
- It would be highly unlikely to pass it through activities such as digital or oral sex on either partner. Take more caution if fingers, genitals, or mouth has open cuts or sores.
- If we were to want to have babies, we could either try the low-risk traditional way, or no-risk alternative methods (turkey baster, inside out condom, etc.). Either way, it should not be a big deal. Many couples have sex with condoms normally, but risk having sex without condoms just when they are trying to get pregnant. PrEP could be helpful during this time.
- If I get pregnant, I should stay on my medications throughout the pregnancy and all should be fine. There is a less than 1-2% risk of the baby contracting it. A natural birth or a C-Section are both equally acceptable and safe delivery options.
- As far as a possible recommendation for him to take PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) as a method of prevention, she does not feel it would be necessary. With the combination of condom use and my Undetectable Viral Load, she again repeated that I am not really very contagious and this really isn't very risky.
However, even though all of these were great general ideas presented... what we actually wanted (and did not receive) was the research and exact numbers behind all of these general ideas/statements/opinions. I know that for some of our questions, an actual specific number may not exist. But I also know that there are numbers for some of the other questions, and this doctor just wasn't as up on her information as she could have been.
Long story short... I was happy for the information the doctor provided. I don't doubt the validity of most of it. But, we were hoping for additional factual and statistical evidence to help settle our fears/concerns.