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How long does HIV survive in the air?

Sep 6, 2007

Hi doc,

This may sound a little funny. My friend bought me a "fleshlight" sort of sex toy from Dubai. I wasn't planning on using it but I became curious and tried it yesterday. I became concerned because I remembered that the box wasn't sealed.

If by any chance an HIV infected man (or any STD) used it and ejaculated on it and then did not clean it, how long will the virus survive in that "fleshlight" thing environment?

Im sure it stayed inside my cabinet for 1 week before I used it. And I put alcohol in it, swirled the alcohol inside a little before using it.

Should I be concerned at all?

-A man from the Philippines

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Man from Philippines,

Your HIV-acquisition risk from using a "fleshlight" sex toy that had "stayed in (your) cabinet for 1 week before use" and on which you applied alcohol before use would be completely nonexistent. I see absolutely no cause for concern whatsoever. I'll reprint some information from the archives below that addresses fleshlight products and safer use of sex toys. Additional information can be found in the archives. Have a look!

Dr. Bob

Fleshlight a risk (SEX TOYS) Feb 19, 2007


I would like to say I think you are great at what you are doing on here.

My question is, I am a gay man, and recently hooked up with another guy. I am unsure of his HIV status. He performed oral sex on me, there was french kissing mutual JO. But what I am concerned with is, he used what they call the "Fleshlight" on me. But taking turns on himself. As far as I am aware he did not ejaculate in it, but I am concerned there may be precum or something in it. Should I be worried of a risk of HIV transmission if he was positive? I get tested every 3 to 6 mths for my own saftey but I would like to know if I am really at risk for sharing that. I appreciate any advice.


Response from Dr. Frascino


Sex toys should not be shared unless you put a condom on the ones that penetrate you and/or a condom on you for the ones you penetrate, like fleshlight, for example. I don't believe your risk for this particularly incident is high, but there is at last a theoretical risk. Consequently, I'd suggest you get an HIV test at the three-month mark. Also, get your own fleshlight and/or stock up on latex condoms before your next hookup. See below for some practical (and some humorous) advice about sex toys reprinted from the archives.

Dr. Bob

Cleaning Toys (SEX TOYS) Dec 14, 2006

I know that we shouldn;t share toys when playing, but can someone else use my toys if I've washed them well, wiped them down with rubbing alcohol, and then ran them thru the dishwaher with a cup of bleach added?

Is that enough?

Response from Dr. Frascino


As frequently is the case, the answer to your question was already waiting for you in the archives. Have a look (reprinted below)!

Be well.

Dr. Bob

Vancouver question Apr 24, 2006

Dr bob, your forum is excellent. I wish to support it on a regular basis. Question first. On Feb 28, I had shared a anal toy with a male bi-sexual sex was used on him first then taken out for about 1 min then inserted into me for the next 20 mins or so. I had 2 hiv test done so far but all negative. VDRL was negative too. Hep C is negative too. I am having some symptoms like small sores in mouth and tongue. Ocassional chills, some occassional headaches, a few episodes of drichea, increased pinkishness on my face or cheek areas. Fatigues as well. I am going to get my test done right when i reach the 3 months anniveasry of the exposure. Dr bob can u please let me know the risk involved here of getting hiv.I am dead worried,,,once i am negative,,i will scream yahhooo and send u a big big donation. Thanks a million.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Although I don't know what "a few episodes of drichea . . ." are, I would say your two negative HIV tests to date are encouraging, but not conclusive. I agree you should have a three-month test to get a definitive result.

Sex toys should not be shared without proper cleaning between uses. I also recommend using a condom on sex toys that are shared. I'll repost below a question from the archives that addresses safe sex toy use.

Thanks for your willingness to make a donation ( I'll send my good-luck karma that your three-month HIV test remains negative.

Good luck!

Dr. Bob

Dr. Bob, Help set the record straight on Sex Toys Sep 21, 2004

Dr. Bob,

I recently bought some anal sex toys (2 rubber plugs and 1 set of jelly beads) and got a little freaked out that maybe they had been used before (although I don't know nor do I have any proof they ever were used). The packaging was a little messed up and I thought I saw a hair on one of the plugs (perhaps it was one of mine from the initial handling). I did a pretty thorough visual exam of each toy and they didn't appear to have any fluids or wetness to them, However, to be safe, I did not use any of the toys for an initial 30 hours and during this 30 hour period I thoroughly washed each toy 4 separate times: twice with antibacterial soap (Triclosan) and twice with regular Irish Spring Bar Soap and let them air dry after each of the 4 washings. I also used fairly hot water (about 50 C to 60 C) for at least one of the rinses. I then used the toys but got freaked out when many of the sex toy sites said that rubber and jelly are porous and can't be sterlized. If the toys had been used before, and given my initial cleansing methods, did I just engage in a potentially "High", "Low", "Extremely Low", or "No Risk" event? Should I be tested for HIV?

J. J.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello JJ,

Wow, if you are that rigorous about cleansing a brand new sex toy, I can only imagine what you must do to a brand new boyfriend before having nookie with him. Is it true you sent your last boyfriend through a carwash three times strapped butt naked to the hood of a Hummer before you let him give you a hummer? And the boyfriend before that was stuffed into an industrial-strength front-loading washer with an extra dose of chlorine (water temp. 60-75C and) and then tumbled dried before you let him stuff and tumble you in bed??? OK, enough about making "dirty" boys squeaky clean. Let's talk about sex toys. Sex toys would pose an HIV risk only if the person using the toy before you was HIV positive and got some of their blood, pre-cum, semen, post-cum, or vaginal secretions on the toy, and the toy was used almost immediately after the infected person used it, and the infected person's body fluids had direct access to your mucosal surfaces or bloodstream. As you can see, your story does not meet these criteria.

It's surprising that some folks are fearful of contracting HIV from sex toys purchased new from adult stores. Do you really think it's likely someone else would have previously used that exact item??? Even Nordstrom wouldn't accept butt plug returns! And remember, the toy would have had to be used immediately before you. In essence, there is no risk of contracting HIV from new toys just purchased from a store. OK?

Now, just to be complete, I'll mention that to prevent HIV transmission when toying around with sex toys, simply wash the toy with soap and water immediately after you use it (and before anyone else uses it). You can, of course, also wash the toy immediately before you play with it. I would definitely consider the four washing cycles lasting 30 hours that you had with your new jelly and rubber friends to be excessive foreplay.

So, was your risk "high, low, extremely low, or no???" Hopefully by now, you know it's no! No? Yes, it's no!

Should you be tested for HIV? No. No risk means no reason to test. By the way, just how much money do you spend on cleaning products in an average month at your house?

Stay well J.J.

Dr. Bob

Cucumber Aug 14, 2005

Used a cucumber bought at grocery store as an anal toy. I was alone (I am a male.)I did not share it as it was a private masturbation. I put it in a stong bleach solution for 1 hour prior to use and washed it about 4 times with soap. was this an possible hiv risk.Iam married and just concerned. Thankyou

Response from Dr. Frascino


You marinated a cucumber for an hour in strong bleach and then washed it four times before sticking it up your butt, and you are worried about HIV???? Hmmm . . . just how much action do you think this cucumber had prior to your "picking him up" in the vegetable aisle? Even if the grocery store was a "Piggly Wiggly," you have absolutely nothing to fear. I suggest you spend some time on this site learning about sex, safer sex, basic HIV information and sex toys. I'm a bit concerned what might happen when you get to the watermelon aisle.

Dr. Bob

Sacred to death from insertion of a used sex toy Nov 21, 2005

I had a few drinks and found myself tied to a couch 5 days ago with a man inserting butt plugs and dildos of various sizes up my butt. He used plenty of lube, but it still hurt like heck. He tried to insert his penis once but i pushed him away, so he sucked on me (i did not even get hard) for about 20 minutes before I managed to break free. I then removed the large dildo and the ball gag and ran home and soaked in a hot tub of water feeling violated. I do not know his HIV status, nor how long it had been since he used the toys but it had to be at least 20 minutes or more. He claimed he washed all his toys with bleach and i was a paranoid whimp. I am losing sleep and am making myself feel sick. Please let me know what my risk of HIV infection is, and if I should get tested. I cant stand not knowing who to talk to. Thank You. Scared in New York

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Scared in New York,

You had a few drinks and "found" yourself tied to a couch with a ball gag in your mouth and a man inserting butt plugs and dildos of various sizes up your butt???? That was after a few drinks??? Gosh, I can't imagine what would have happened if he had bought you diner. So this dude tried to insert his penis, but you pushed him away??? Hmmm . . . how did you do that while being tied to the couch? O.K., never mind. Let's move on to your questions. Overall your HIV risk is low. If indeed dildo-guy did wash his toys with bleach and he did not insert his dick, your HIV risk is limited to unprotected insertive oral sex with a weirdo. I'd recommend:

1. HIV testing at three months.

2. Changing your drinking establishment.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

Someone else used my sex toy without my Knowledge??!! Sep 12, 2005

Hey Doctor Bob. First you are a great man for giving advice and guidance to everyone who needs it. Its truly remarkable.

I recently went abroad for a few days and took my anal sex toy with me. I used it three times, washed it after each use, and used plenty of lube. After the first time I used it I developed a nasty rash on my thumb, arm and leg which may well have been due to insect bites or another cause.. Thereafter I felt a diarrhoea like pain in my stomach on and off although not to the extent where I had to visit the toilet regularly. In fact each time I used the toilet, there was no actual diarrhoea, only pain in my stomach. I passed waste normally.

I got a little worried as these are symptoms for initial H.I.V infection. To compound my fears, one of the hotel cleaners came into my hotel room once whilst I was dozing. I then began to think that he might have visited my hotel room previously and 'tampered' with my sex toy. I know it sounds paranoid and crazy, but I am terrified that this could have happened. Each time I used my toy I used it about two hours after coming back to my hotel room, rinsed the toy briefly and then washed it more throughly after use. I put it in a bag with another toy in a drawer so it was in a closed environment most of the time. As the virus is not really exposed to air, I keep thinking it is possible that the virus could still breed in this sort of atmosphere...

I guess what I am asking is if its possible that the virus survived in the closed environment and got into my body assuming that the toy had been tampered with. I should have washed the toy more throughly before use or better yet used a condom, but the idea that someone else has been messing around with my sex toy has really freaked me out. Since I have got back, I have still a pain in my stomach after I eat, though it doesn't force me to go the toilet and I am passing waste regularly as normal. I have also developed a mild sore throat...Please help me doc as I am freaking out so badly and am sure that something is wrong.

Thank you very much for your help Doctor Bob and I hope you respond soon and give me some news, good or bad..

Response from Dr. Frascino


Let me get this straight. You are worried that a hotel maid or room service attendant might have come into your hotel room, opened your drawer, found a bag, opened it, found your butt plug and immediately decided to plug themselves with it??? Hmmm . . . now exactly what kind of hotel were you staying in???

Yep, it all "sounds paranoid and crazy" to me, too.

HIV risk? None.

Paranoia risk? Off the charts.

I suggest you seek counseling. You do have a problem; it's just not HIV.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

Both are positive
It is a Boy!!!!!! Mini Dr Bob

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