silly question by an educated guy
Aug 3, 2010
Hey Dr Bob
I am Steve and have a doctorate in development studies. I just got married. 3 weeks back, I was doing my fieldwork in Tanzania, and I had to stay temporarily in a dilapidated boarding house. There was only one bathroom and is shared by all occupants. During one of the mornings, I went into the bathroom to take a shower immediately after one of the black occupants. After bathing, I went back into my room. In my room, I noticed there were genital secretions on my penis including around my urethra. I just wiped it off and thought nothing of it because it could be mine. But now I have been having symptoms that I never had before in my life. I have terrible muscle pain all over my body, my bodys all warm, I have a terrible sore throat and my armpits ache quite often. I also have excessively dry skin, and feel very tired easily. I am slightly worried that those genital secretions might actually not be mine, and so it is possible that I could be infected with HIV because those secretions could have entered the mucous membrane of my urethra. It could have come from my bath towel that I had hung on the wall. I am usually a rational person but have become irrational after this episode. I have also stopped having sex with my wife for fear that I could infect her with HIV. Can you help me with some of my queries and help lessen my worries, please? Need some input from an expert doctor like yourself, please.
1. In a worst-case scenario where these secretions on my penis were not mine and HIV-infected, and could have entered my urethra, would I be at risk for HIV?
2. Are these symptoms at first glance consistent with seroconversion to HIV?
3. Should I do a HIV test, either medically or psychologically?
4. In the meantime, should I stop having sex with my wife? We are trying to have a baby. I have told her what has happened and she is worried about me too.
Thank you Dr Bob in advance. I read your archives, and I am unable to find a similar incident unless of course this is considered mutual masturbation, which you have explained, is of negligible risk. My wife and I have donated $200 to your Foundation, which is certainly for a worthwhile cause. Hoping to receive a reply from you.
Response from Dr. Frascino
1. No. HIV does not survive very long outside the body. Also, this "worst-case scenario" is extremely farfetched and most improbable.
2. "Symptoms" are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. Your current symptom list is not worrisome for HIV acute retroviral syndrome (ARS).
3. HIV testing is not warranted medically, but might help psychologically to put your unwarranted worries permanently to rest.
4. No, I see no reason to stop having sex with your wife. You "just got married!" If you're worried, despite my reassurance, put the baby-making on hold for a few months and use latex condoms until your three-month HIV test reconfirms your negative status. I do not feel this is medically necessary. I merely mention it as another layer of psychological security until you are once again reassured of your negative status.
Thank you for your generous donation to The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). It's warmly appreciated. In return I'm sending you my good-health/good-health karma that you are now and will always be HIV free.
Good luck. Be well.
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