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Jan 7, 2002

Hi Ryan

I have already posted this question once. Hoping you will answer it this time round. Thank You in anticipation.

I have had three possible exposures to HIV in the past two months:

1) After having safe sex, I used the same towel that was used by my partner to clean her vaginal/anal area, to wipe my hands after washing them. I have a habit of chewing the skin around my nails so had open cuts on my fingers when I used the towel. Does this put me at risk for HIV ?

2)I was getting a hand job from my partner (without a condom) and her hand had some kinda sore on it, she told me she had burnt it in the past. I could not see any blood. Does this put me at risk for HIV ?

3)My partner was giving me a blow job (with a condom) but her mouth was bleeding and ended up smearing blood on the condom. This caused me to stop. I then put on my shorts(I still had the condom on) and rubbed against her till I came, thus smearing blood on the insides of my shorts. Around 15 minutes later, I removed the condom, and while I was washing my hands some of the blood from the condom(mixed in the water) seeped onto some open cuts I had on my finger (I have a habit of chewing the skin around my nails as I have mentioned above, hence the open cuts on my fingers). Also I continued to wear the same shorts with dried blood on the insides the whole night. Does this put me at risk for HIV especially if the condom used was lambskin. Also I had an episode of sore throat that lasted two days, a few weeks after this exposure.

I would really be grateful if you would reply with whatever information you could provide

Thank You.

Response from Mr. Kull

The details of the scenarios you describe are pretty irrelevant when you look at how HIV is transmitted from one person to another. Based on the epidemiological knowledge of HIV and its transmission, there is no evidence that HIV has been transmitted through some of the ways that you describe (using a towel, receiving a hand job, receiving oral sex with or without a condom). It's important to remember that HIV is only known to be transmitted through the following three ways:

1) Sexual contact: anal, vaginal, and oral sex (to the person who is performing oral sex)

2) Blood-to-blood contact: sharing injection needles, occupational exposures, blood transfusions (which is rare in the U.S.). This does not include coming into contact with blood in the way you describe.

3) Mother-to-infant: either through delivery or during breast feeding

Then think about the model for transmission: HIV infected fluids coming into contact with mucous membranes. Since the potentially HIV infected fluid (blood) came into contact with your skin (not a mucous membrane) then transmission can't occur. Intact skin forms a barrier against HIV and small cuts on fingers don't pose much of a risk for infection.

Clearly it is advisable that people avoid coming into contact with blood when someone of unknown or positive status is bleeding. However, transmission is only possible if the blood were to have access to your immune system.

RMK



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