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$50 donation about "cracked skin"
Mar 31, 2009

I know you hear a lot of questions about "shaking hands" but please hear me out. Today I shook hands with an HIV+ man. I couldn't be rude and not shake his hand that he extended to me! As we gripped hands I noticed his hand was wet!! I worried and right away rubbed my hand on my dark jeans before I looked at my hand. Now I'm worried it was blood that I felt. I have no open wounds on my hand, BUT I do have a bit of cracked skin on my knuckles from getting very dry. They don't bleed and just in the creases in the knuckles where you bend your fingers. It's not severe, just minor. It's really just dry to the touch and a tab bit red (I'm fair skinned). But this is where part of his hand and wetness touched!!

Is this a way for transmission if it was blood I felt?

Do I ALWAYS have to second guess when I shake hands??

$50 and karma points to you!!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Yes, the "handshake" question is nearly reaching QTND (questions that never die) status. Your risk due to "cracked skin" is nonexistent. If HIV were transmitted that easily it would have wiped out the planet long ago. Do you always have to second guess when you shake hands? No, of course not. Handshaking is not a risk for HIV transmission.

Don't worry about the mysterious "wetness;" the guy probably just peed on his hands or something like that, OK? (Kidding, don't freak out!)

Thanks for your karma points and the donation to the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). Both are warmly appreciated. Now let's shake hands and agree to forget all this unwarranted worry nonsense. I promise I'll dry my hands first, OK?

Be well. Stop worrying.

Dr. Bob



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