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Indirect exposure to small amount of blood
May 26, 2006

Hello Dr. Bob, I am truly impressed by your wonderful work here. I have read many websites, but I have not seen a specialist like you, who combines compassion and humour while dispensing the best scientific knowledge. I have read your archives a lot.

My exposure: After having protected vaginal sex, I noticed a small amount of blood on the outside of the condom (less than 6 drops). During sex, she had touched the condom a few times, so she could have gotten some blood on her hand/fingers during sex. During sex, her hand accidentally knocked once against my forehead. The room was quite dark, so I did not notice any bleeding cut on my forehead during the sex. Immediately, after the sex, when I went into the washroom, I remember having casually glanced at the mirror, but I had not looked so carefully at the mirror to check whether my forehead had any cut. When I meticulously checked for cuts on my forehead about 8 hours after the sex, I found no possible signs of a cut i.e., my forehead's skin seemed to be fully intact.

My questions: 1) From your archives, all the HIV transmission routes seem to be from inside one body to inside another body without any exposure to the outside. What is my HIV risk from the following two routes: (a) A few drops of blood on the condom goes to her hand and then her hand touches my cut (assuming a cut existed)? (b) From the condom, my hand picks up a few drops of blood and touches/fondles her and my mouth kisses where my hand touched her? I do not remember tasting or seeing any blood when I kissed her body parts, but the room was quite dark.

2) Is it possible for an actively bleeding cut or a minor bleeding cut on the forehead to heal so completely within 8 hours without leaving any visible signs that a bleeding cut once existed there?

3) What would be my HIV risk, assuming the blood on her hand knocked on a non-bleeding cut on the forehead such that no visible signs of the non-bleeding cut existed after 8 hours?

4) 5 weeks and 3 days after this exposure, I had a sore throat (due to smoking heavily while worrying?) My throat was very sore on the first day, and has become mild on the second day, which is today. No fever yet and no other symptoms yet. Since this falls within the 2-6 week timeline of ARS, is my sore throat symptom suggestive of ARS? In your archives, I read that sore throat is one of the symptoms for ARS.

5) Given my exposure due to this episode, would you recommend testing solely for medical purposes?

Due to my OCD, I have been stressing about this exposure a lot and I just cannot get it out of my mind. Thank you. From your true fan.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Thanks for your kind comments.

Now on to your forehead-thwacking incident:

1a) A cut did not exist, so this is a moot question, right? No need to worry about "what ifs."

1b) Risk = zero.

2) Nope.

3) Risk = zero.

4) Nope. HIV is not your problem. However, I should warn you smoking will indeed kill you and is definitely worth worrying about.

5) Nope! But I would recommend you give up smoking.

Dr. Bob



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