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I have HIV, undetectable and my CD4 counts are good. I am looking at getting a cat but heard rumors that cat waste is dangerous to poz people. Is this true?

So you’re thinking of getting a pet, how exciting! Pets can add to our emotional health and bring us a lot of joy, whether we are “poz” (HIV positive) or not.

The issue with cat waste is something called Toxoplasmosis. Cats are natural hosts of this parasite, and it may be transmitted to people through contact with cat feces. About 30% of Canadians have had exposure to the organism. Toxoplasmosis is a concern for people with a weakened immune system (usually with a CD4 count of 200 or less.)

When you mention being undetectable, I am assuming that you mean your HIV viral load is undetectable. In that case, your HIV treatment is working well and you’ve achieved¬†undetectable viral load through taking your medication regularly. (Congrats!) Having an undetectable HIV viral load, usually puts less strain on the immune system. So owning a cat shouldn’t be a risk or a concern for you.

You can also take precautions like keeping your cat indoors, avoiding handling stray cats, using disposable gloves and dust-free cat litter when cleaning the litter box, and washing your hands afterwards.