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Dr. Southall please help regarding risk for HIV transmission
Jan 21, 2014

Hi Dr. Southall,

I am a 25 year old male and I think I suffer from OCD regarding HIV transmission, so I don't want to get tested if the situation does not warrent it. Recently a situation happened that has gotten me worried again about any possible risk for HIV transmission. This Halloween I was with a couple of friends at some bars near my apartment. I ended up drinking quite a lot and got separated from my friends. I don't usually drink that much and would definitely not do this in the future. I may have blacked out for a bit - basically I do not have any memories of what happened between 1:00 am and 4:30 am. The next thing that I remember is walking to my apartment alone at 4:30 am in the morning. All my personal belongings (cellphone/wallet) were with me and I could account for all the money (except for $10). My jeans were a bit dirty around the back pocket (maybe I had fallen somewhere) and one belt loop on my jeans was torn (I don't know how that happened).

Now I am worried that I may have been exposed to HIV during the time I was drunk and alone? Am I crazy in thinking that? Would I have remembered in the morning if I was involved in unprotected anal/vaginal sex of any kind, iv drug use or any other risk for HIV transmission? Please help me with your advice. How should I deal/think about this situation?

Response from Ms. Southall

Hi Yes you are overthinking this! Though not good to drink as much as you did and you seem to have learned that lesson. You would know if you were "assaulted" in any way. HIV transmission can only occur when there is a direct and prolonged exposure to body fluids, semen, vaginal fluid, blood or mother to child through breast feeding. This most commonly occurs through unprotected vaginal or anal sex and sharing of needles. Casual contact, sharing utensils, drinking after someone, etc are not way for HIV transmission to occur. If you go to this link HIV101 it will take you to our page that talks about the ways in which HIV is and is not transmitted. From what you have described nothing like this happened to you.

Of course peace of mind is always a good thing to have. I also always encourage everyone to get tested as we should all know our status. But from what you have described this experience did not pose a risk for HIV.

Be well and stay safe, Shannon



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