Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Readers' queries relating to HIV/AIDS will be answered in this section by a special panel of experts including

vinay kunkarniVinay Kulkarni, a physician specialising in treatment related to HIV/AIDS. He is associated with Prayas Health, a care and support organisation in Pune

padma govindan Eldred Tellis is director of the Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust, Mumbai, and a member of NACO’s Technical Resource Group for programmes related to injecting drug users. He has worked extensively in various parts of India and Asia developing and replicating programmes for IDUs

padma govindan Padma Govindan, founder and co-director of the Shakti Centre, a sexuality advocacy and research non-profit organisation in Chennai

magdalene jeyarathnam Magdalene Jeyarathnam, founder-director, Center for Counselling, Chennai

Click here to send any queries you may have

I am an HIV patient from birth. My parents died before I was 8 years old. I am now a 22-year-old woman. I want to get married. My test result is HIV 1 positive, HIV 2 p24 is negative, so I am confused. Viral load is 201, CD4 is 600. Can I marry a normal person? Is there any risk to my partner and to my baby?

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It is good, though surprising, that you are doing well at the age of 22 and are still without medicines for HIV. Good, keep it up. The test results are not surprising. They just confirm that you are infected with HIV 1 virus which is the common type in India. Keep doing your CD4 counts every 6 months and at the appropriate time your doctor will start ART for you and then you will continue to remain 'normal' for many years. 

Can you marry? You certainly can. 

Can you marry a 'normal' (you mean HIV uninfected) person? Yes, you can

PROVIDED the person understands the meaning of marrying a person with HIV. Sex will have to be always protected so that he does not get infected. You can have a baby too but you will have to use techniques for that so that your partner does not run the risk of being infected. If you get pregnant there is a little chance that the baby may get infected but that risk can be greatly reduced if you are provided certain medicines. 

Most important aspect here is that you have to be very transparent and open with your partner and he should understand all the consequences before the decision to marry is taken. 

--Vinay Kulkarni


I had tested for HIV after the six months of possible exposure and the test was negative. I want to know if I should re-test. When I think about this, sometimes my mind's negative thinking tortures me. Please help.

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There is no need to test after a negative result. However, you may wish to visit the Integrated Testing and Counselling Centre nearest you for advice on how to avoid exposure to HIV. 

- Editor, hivaidsonline.in 


I would like a general HIV test. Can you tell me where I can find an HIV testing centre in Delhi?

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A list of all government centres is available on http://www.nacoonline.org/upload/Documents/ICTCs.pdf 

- Editor, hivaidsonline.in


I had unprotected sex a year back with my girlfriend and was damn worried about HIV infection. I got tested by the Elisa method every three months till one year and all the tests are negative. Please advise do I need to worry still?

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You do not have to worry any more. But why did you get worried after having sex with your girlfriend? If she is not infected and if there are no other partners for either of you, you should not be worrying at all.

--Vinay Kulkarni


I am an uncircumcised male. I had vaginal intercourse with a prostitute in Kolkata on 22/07/09. During intercourse my condom broke, I do not know when. I ejaculated inside her. I was on the top. What are the chances of getting infected? To date I have not seen any symptoms. Do I need to get tested?

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The chances are less but still one cannot just rule the chance out. Calculating the exact possibility of infection based on whether you are circumcised or not, or when the condom broke, or whether you ejaculated or not, or whether you were on top or below, is futile. If there is even a small chance, the best thing would be to get yourself tested after the window period is over (usually considered to be maximum 12 weeks). So get tested, say, in early November. Remember, you must have NO UNPROTECTED SEX, even with your regular partner, till you know that you are not infected. 

--Vinay Kulkarni


Kya koi ilaaj neklega aane wale kuch salo mey kyunki mai bhi HIV-positive hoon aur mere ek beta bhi hai. Muzhe uski fikur hote hai (Will there be any cure for HIV in the next few years since for many years I have been HIV-positive and my son too is HIV-positive. I am very worried about him.)

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A complete cure is not around yet. Also, in spite of many pharmaceutical companies working on preparing vaccines against HIV, spending millions of dollars, we have not got one so far. There is extensive research going on, but we have to wait. 

With first and second line antiretroviral treatment (ART) available, those with HIV are beginning to lead better quality lives. ART is the only option for now. 

- Magdalene Jeyarathnam


I have been trying to get information about HIV in Marathi on the Net, but I can't get anything

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Thanks for your efforts in replying to people suffering from various diseases. I have been trying to get information about HIV in Marathi on the Net, but I can't get anything. Please let me know about any sites on the Net in Marathi that have information about HIV/AIDS. 

You can get information in Marathi at:

www.prayaspune.org/health (You can download a Flash presentation in Marathi)

and www.aidsandmedia.net (Booklet for Media) 

You can also check the websites of the Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (www.mahasacs.org) and the Maharashtra District Aids Control Society ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).  

--Vinay Kulkarni


I am writing this mail to you because I am under a lot of mental pressure and tension. I am now 45 years old and got married in September 1994. Before my marriage I had a few sexual interactions with girls who may be in the risk group, though the contacts were protected.

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Immediately after my marriage I had felt feverish and tired etc for about three months and I was scared I may have contracted HIV from the earlier contacts, but when the problem disappeared I was very happy and had no contact outside marriage.

In March 1996 I had a lump in my neck on the left side and it was diagnosed as Gland TB. I started to take ATT but was very depressed as I felt sure that due to HIV status I had got TB. Since I was depressed I was brought to Chennai and was taken to a leading hospital. I told the doctor about my fears and he made me take the Elisa test and the result was negative (May 1996). I continued with ATT for 6 months.

In subsequent years I started feeling sensations in lymph glands but no specific enlargement. Since I still believed HIV may be the cause, I took the following tests after consulting JJ Hospital, Mumbai, ARCON etc: Dec 1996, Spot test –negative;

August 1997- Western Blot-test indeterminate as GP 41 was indicated as +/- and all other protein negative - MGM, hospital lab, Mumbai.

I was advised to repeat the Elisa, Western Blot and PCR and all three were negative.

The problems of gland sensations continued and with the passage of time I started getting swelling without pain in armpits and thighs etc which varies - sometimes I feel more uncomfortable. I was however putting on weight but otherwise I was okay.

I have a daughter who is now 13 years old. She seems to be okay in health but had primary complex two years back and had taken ATT and is okay after this.

My wife is getting some problems related to respiratory infections but otherwise is okay and complains of tiredness sometimes.

When my wife conceived last year I was still worried and went to YRG Care hospital with my wife. I was assured that everything was okay and there is no probability of wrong test results. My wife also tested negative.

Recently I am having problem of swelling in neck also and can feel some enlargement of tissues in my throat. It’s now 15 years almost from any risky behaviour. Is this related to gland TB which is drug resistant or some other problems, or are the tests wrong? Though I had consulted many doctors, they are not clear what the problem is but say it is not related to HIV. Please advise me. I live in Chennai.

You have what we call ‘AIDS phobia’. Phobia is defined as 'an unrealistic fear'.

From what you have written it is clear that you are certainly not infected with HIV and unless you put yourself at risk of HIV in the future, you are unlikely to get infected.

You have always had protected sexual encounters before marriage and have got yourself tested well past the window period (which is usually only 6-12 weeks). Your negative status has been confirmed by several tests at several places (though in my opinion most of the tests were unnecessary and the only thing you needed at that time was reassurance).

Why did you get TB of the lymph gland? Well, just by chance. TB is a common infection in India and was there even before HIV appeared on the scene. So each and every TB case need not be associated with HIV. Why did your daughter get it? Again by chance, she being a resident of India where TB is common. If your wife tested negative she is not infected and in such a situation she cannot transmit HIV infection to her daughter in any case. 

You must remember that not all health problems in the world are only due to HIV. Anyone can get anything like malaria, dengue, typhoid, tuberculosis, common cold, sore throat, sneezing, etc. It is due to your phobia that you keep on connecting everything with HIV. You should really get out of this.

I hope you have discussed these issues with your wife. Otherwise you are also carrying the burden of non-disclosure. I also hope that you are otherwise keeping yourself in good health. Anyone under such severe mental stress is unlikely to have slept well since many days and is also unlikely to eat well. Anyone who has not been eating well, or has not been getting a good rest is likely to be more prone to repeated infections (including TB).

My advice to you is to forget the past and start leading a healthier lifestyle - good food, good exercise, enough rest, adequate recreation, no vices etc. You will definitely be better off if you get these things sorted out with your wife too. 

--Vinay Kulkarni

 Magdalene Jeyarathnam adds: 

You could meet with a counsellor in Chennai who can work with you regarding this phobia. You could call the counselling helpline of Center for Counselling to fix an appointment: 9884700104 (English) /9884700174 (Tamil). Or contact YRG Care Helpline: 9840069000. These services are not free.


My friend is a doctor. While inspecting a patient he realised that a small part of sputum of an HIV-positive diagnosed patient had splashed into his eye. Does he need to go for PEP therapy? He had taken one dose within three hours and repeated the second dose. Today is his second day.

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I would put this as a very, very low risk exposure. 

Sputum is a non-infectious fluid unless contaminated by visible blood. You do not mention it, but I hope he has taken first-aid precautions such as washing the eye thoroughly with plain water.

In my opinion he does not require PEP.

--Vinay Kulkarni


Is silver nano therapy a complete cure from HIV? If yes then where is the hospital?

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Please understand that there is no cure for HIV as of today. Any talk about Silver Nano, or Amrican/Indian Noni or for that matter any other 'thing' claiming complete cure for HIV is a fraud.

--Vinay Kulkarni


I used a syringe that was used by another person after just a rinse with normal water. Will it reduce the risk? Please help me

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I’m sorry to say that this does not reduce the risk. You need to make sure you are free from all risk for three months and then go for testing to an ICTC centre. Cleaning with water is not good enough. As I have said here before, bleach solution is the best cleaning agent. To clean needles and syringe with bleach, first flush three times with clean water and then three times with bleach, each time leaving it in the syringe for 30 seconds. Then flush three times again with water. Yet I must admit that even this is not 100% safe. 

--Eldred Tellis


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