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Being Alive

MEDICAL UPDATE: HIV in Pre-Ejaculatory Fluid


Being Alive 1993 Mar 5: 2

Whenever there is a discussion about safer sex, there is almost always a question about pre-ejaculate (or "pre-cum"). Can this be a source for transmitting HIV? We know that the pre-ejaculatory fluid contains white blood cells and thus, in an HIV+ man, could contain infected T-lymphocytes. Until recently, however, there was no study that definitely detected HIV in pre-ejaculate.

Now Lancet, a respected British medical journal, has published a study that gives us data on the HIV content in pre-ejaculate. Specimens of the pre-ejaculatory fluid of 14 HIV+ men were tested for HIV over a period of time. The fluid of six of the men (or 43% of the study subjects) consistently tested positive for the presence of HIV. Further, researchers found no correlation between the presence of HIV in pre-ejaculate and the CD4 status of the men. Whether the subject was on antiviral therapy was also not a correlating factor.

This, of course, is a very small study. But it does confirm something that many have long suspected. Pre-ejaculatory fluid may be a source of HIV transmission and any ingesting of "pre-cum" should be avoided. 


Information in this article was accurate in March 5, 1993. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.