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How does HIV get into the body through the urethra?
Jan 5, 2008

Hello Doc, First of all, I would like to thank you for the incredible work you are doing. Keep it up!!!!

I had a simple question for you? I was wondering how HIV could get into the body through the urethra? Even if HIV infected fluid (semen or vaginal fluid), enters the urethra, how does it get into the blood stream? Reading your archives, it seems that there has to be some rupture in the mucous membrane for HIV to get into the blood stream. Does that mean, if there is no rupture in the urethra, HIV cannot get into the blood stream? If that were true, it would be awfully hard for men to get HIV from an HIV positive person during vaginal intercourse unless there was some cut on the penis. Is my assessment true?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

A rupture in the mucous membrane is not necessary for HIV to permeate it and have access to the bloodstream. HIV can be directly absorbed across a mucous membrane, however HIV can not permeate intact skin. The urethra is a mucous membrane. You can read more about this in the archives. For example, see below.

Dr. Bob

pls educate us about mechanism of infection May 15, 2006

hi angel bob i adressed you as an angel becoz you are helping people who are living with fear for the most deadliest thing in this world ie hiv. first i would like to extend you loads of thanks for rendering community service. here goes my question :- i just read from an updated hiv article that hiv just cant penetrate the tough mucous membrane thats located near the tip or opening of the penis(from where we pee)infection happens when involved in unprotected anal or vaginal sex during which penis suffers microscopic cuts and bruises.thats when damaged penis(cant notice with the naked human eye) comes in contact with infectd vaginal or anal secretion and hiv gets into the blood stream.is it really true or hiv can simply enter through tip of the penis penetrating the tough mucous membrane even though no microscopic damage was done i mean the intact skin.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

The "mechanism of infection" has not changed. Your interpretation of what you read is incorrect. (Or perhaps what you read was itself inaccurate.) The urethra (pee hole) is lined with a mucous membrane. HIV-infected fluids coming into contact with a mucous membrane can result in HIV being taken up by specialized cells in the mucous membrane and transported across the membrane without microscopic cuts or abrasions. The take-home message remains if you can't shield your rocket, leave it in your pocket!

Stay safe. Stay well.

Dr. Bob



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