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Two Questions (One for Me, One for a Friend)
Apr 25, 2011

Hello Dr. Bob,

It's wonderful that someone like you is willing to dedicate so much time to educating us all about HIV and its transmission. Thank you! I see the immense volume of questions you get each day, so I'll do my best to be concise for you.

1. I'm female and a virgin. I want to lose my virginity to my HIV+ boyfriend. We will certainly use a condom for any and all sexual encounters we have. However, given the fact that there is a 100% chance that the integrity of my skin down there will be severely compromised the first few times we do it and given that he'd definitely have to push very hard to break it (presumably increasing the risk of condom breakage), do you think it would be safer for me to break my own hymen, wait a few weeks, and then start having (protected) sex with him? I know that if the condom doesn't break, there's no risk, but since we'll probably be increasing the chance of condom failure, do you think this risk is high enough that I should avoid having my boyfriend break my hymen with his penis? Maybe he should try it the first time with his fingers or a dildo instead? Or, is the risk of condom breakage still so small that he can break my hymen in the more "traditional" way?

2. My friend and I ate at McDonald's yesterday. She showed me that one of her chicken tenders had a reddish (not bright red) section of breading on it. I told her it definitely wasn't a spot of fresh blood since it wasn't dark and opaque. She ate it, but later wondered if someone may have gotten a small amount of blood on it, wiped most of it off, and left some residue, which would have been the slightly reddish section of the bread that she ate. It wasn't the chicken showing from underneath because it was a thick section of bread. She wants me to mention that she bites her cheeks frequently and so has breaks in the skin in her mouth. For what it's worth, we both observed that none of the employees were wearing gloves in the kitchen (eww regardless of HIV status).

I told her she's probably fine, but we'd be really grateful if, as a doctor and HIV expert, you can just tell us (a) whether blood, even if wiped, might leave behind less-than-opaque traces of itself on a chicken tender (since the oil from the fryer might make it more difficult for the pigment to bind to the bread) and (b) even if it were blood, whether the breaks in the skin in her mouth could allow for HIV transmission from eating the chicken tenders (assuming the blood had been there for only a minute or two before she ate it and not all of the HIV had died yet).

Thank you, Dr. Bob! I'll be really appreciative if you answer my questions in your forum. My friend and I are each going to contribute $10 toward a $20 donation to your foundation, because we think it would be awesome if we complicated humans could finally overcome this pesky little unicellular monster! Just think about how the world would be if all the Worried Wells (maybe one or both of us included?) could spend their time worrying about something else!

Take care! I hope to hear from you! It'll really help me make an important decision and will help my friend stop worrying herself (literally) to the point of nausea ...

Thank you, Dr. Bob!!!

A.S.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello A.S.,

1. From an HIV-transmission perspective, rupturing a hymen will not put undue stress on a latex condom or increase the risk of condom failure.

2a. The chance this was HIV-infected blood is beyond remote. Even if it was, the HIV-transmission risk is nonexistent.

2b. No risk.

You're welcome!

Dr. Bob



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