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Spent a night with HIV+ Ex girlfriend

Mar 22, 2007

Dr. Bob,

This is the first time I am writing to you as I have no idea how to deal with my worry.

I broke up with my ex girlfriend for about two years but we have still been in contact. Currently I am on a study trip to Hong Kong and yesterday she told me she wanted to come over to my hotel because she is feeling really bad.

Last night when she was with me in my hotel she told me she just found out that she is diagnosed with HIV+ two days ago. She said she must have gotten it from her current boyfriend, who happens to do drugs. I didn't bother asking her what kind of drugs. And obviously she was completely devastated of the situation.

We talked for a long time and eventually got tired and laid down on the bed together. She was fully clothed and I was in my loose sleep shorts and tank top.

Here are my concerns:

1. I hugged her all night in my arm to keep her comfort. It was a bit hot in the hotel and we were sweating a bit. We didnt have sex and we were fully clothed. Can this cause a HIV transmission from her to me?

2. Because I was wearing loose sleeping shorts, she accidentally touched my penis through the shorts opening by her hand. Will this cause HIV transmission?

3. She kept her face close to my chest and shoulder all night and sometimes her lips touched my skins. And she kissed me on my cheek on the way out today. Will this cause HIV transmission?

4. Lastly, what should I say to her?? I honest don't know what to say to her about her situation.

I am a student and I am now faced with a real situation that I have no idea how to deal with. Please Please help me answering those questions.... I really really appreciate it.

Response from Dr. Frascino


You're a student studying abroad in Hong Kong and yet you have absolutely no idea if casual contact places you at risk for HIV/AIDS?????? Hmmm . . . . I have no way of knowing your age or the level of your current studies, but unless your trip to Hong Kong is part of a kindergarten exchange program, there really is no excuse for a responsible sexually active young adult not to have a better understanding of HIV transmission! I can only assume Dubya's "abstinence-only sex education" policy strikes again!

The global answer to your questions is that casual contact does not transmit HIV/AIDS. The specific answers to your questions are:

1. No, absolutely not!

2. No, absolutely not.

3. No, absolutely not.

4. Simply be supportive and offer to help in whatever way you can. What would you say to her if she had developed some other malady, such as breast cancer? HIV is a viral illness. Most likely, your not knowing how to respond to your ex-girlfriend's unfortunate news has more to do with your irrational fears of the virus than not knowing what to say to a friend in need.

I suggest you spend some time reading through the information on this site and related links, paying particular attention to how HIV is and is not transmitted. Clearly this has been a deficiency in your educational process to date. You could also suggest this site to your ex-girlfriend, as it has a wealth of information for the newly infected.

Dr. Bob

scientific questions, from a prospective microbiologist

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