Is Sex between HIV-positives perilo
yur77 at glas.apc.org
Sat Jan 20 07:16:07 EST 1996
I would like to attract attention to a rather important
practically problem which seems to be completely overlooked
both by science and by AIDS activists.
There is an absolutely obvious reason to think that sex
between HIV-positive partners may trigger the onset of AIDS in
both of them.
Indeed, there are too many different antigenic forms of
HIV and every its carrier has several of them. Therefore if
partners have "different AIDSes" both are at risk to catch
additional antigenic forms (it is called superinfection).
The question whether "more AIDSes" means progress to
development of disease is not trivial. The common sense says, of
course, that it does. And there was a nice mathematical model by
M.Nowak & R.May (e.g.: Science (1991), 254:963) based on this
assumption. They recently published a protracted article in
Sci.American (Aug.1995, page58), so this point of view seems to be
a mainstream one.
Then, there is a "heretic" phenomenon (used mostly by
P.H.Duesberg) correlating with this view that HIV-positives
continuing promiscuous lifestyle are at higher risk of developing
Yet, objections also exist.
First, model by Nowak was developed neglecting (rather
absurdly, I think) the possibility of superinfections and even
opportunity to catch several antigenic forms at the moment of
primary infection. So, in the present context this work should be
considered merely as an avowing of "common sense" idea
proving, actually, nothing.
Second, most serious, there are data about patients with
well over a thousand partners who, obviously, had to get virus at
least from dozens of sources. Yet the did not develop any
unusual (accelerated) forms of AIDS. Some researchers at early
days (Hahn B.H. et.al., Science(1986), 232:1548) even
suggested on this bases that superinfections are somehow
hindered by unknown mechanisms. Yet, today that is clearly not
Thus, the conclusion should be drawn that it is not known
whether "sharing" of HIV's antigenic forms is perilous.
Apparently, the more probable and more mainstream answer is
"Yes". If so, the propaganda of "safe sex" among HIV-positives
should be conducted with no less persistense as among the rest
Yet, of course, this problem deserve more definite
investigation which seems to be not difficult to perform having
access to appropriate statistics
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