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last ever question about toilets?
Sep 12, 2008

Dear Dr Bob,

Please ignore my previous query (if you can tell whose is whose) as I just answered it myself by looking through the archives as you suggest. Sorry.

I think that perhaps the reason 'the question that never dies' about toilets arises because, as someone else mentioned in a different question, women may come into contact with traces of other people's menstrual blood in public toilets. Therefore the logic that you can't catch HIV from toilets because you can't catch it from urine / feces doesn't cover everything that you might encounter in the toilet. In particular I am wondering about inserting tampons, which can involve inserting fingers into the vagina, thereby touching mucous membranes, after having touched surfaces which may be contaminted with traces of someone else's menstrual blood.

Would this be a no-risk activity? If so, would the reasoning behind that be because it has never, to people's knowledge, happened in real life, or is it actually theoretically impossible?

Thanks for all your efforts to reassure and inform, your work is invaluable and very much appreciated. I will make a donation to your organisation.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

"Last ever question about toilets"??? Oh, I wish it were so, but, alas, the chances of that happening are about the same as Cheney becoming president of PFLAG. It's a QTND (question that never dies), second only to the dreaded mosquito question. Your fears, like others with toilet terrors or porta-potty paranoia, are unwarranted. HIV does not live very long outside the body. So unless there is a gaggle of gals all inserting tampons in the same cubicle and coming into immediate contact with each other's fresh HIV+ blood, this just isn't a realistic risk. So once again, unless you're having unsafe sex in bathroom stalls, you really should not worry. (Senator Larry 'I'm not gay' Craig may well have to worry, but not you, OK?)

So, care to take a bet on how long it will be until the next toilet terror question?

Dr. Bob



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