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Non sexual Transmission concern- may seem crazy

Oct 24, 2018

Ok, so my sister has this weird rash on her back that ahe keeps saying is acne. Ozzing sores that dont seem to heal. She ask me to help her put some cream on her back to clear it up, sure no problem. I didnt wear gloves but washed my hands after. Honestly didnt even think about it. Fast forward about 6 weeks or so and my mom just saw her and was very concerned about what my sister is still saying is acne. Mom sent a picture of HIV rash and wanted to know if the rash i saw on her was possibly the same. For context my sister has had multiple unportected partners and she used to be addicted meth. I know it seems crazy and i am not trying ro be all judgmental towards my sister, and I understand that non-sexual contact is uncommon. Its just i bite my nails and i always have issues with dry cracked fingers. My fear is i may have had a microscopic cut around my fingers and was rubbing medicine cream on what was not actually acne but HIV rash. I am telling you the picture looked exactly like my sisters back. My sister gets really defensive whenever we ask about her acne breakouts and I really dont think she would tell the truth even if she had HIV. However i also feel like my doctor would laugh me out of the exam room if i told this story and ask for an HIV test. I know i am probably just internally freaking out for no reason, but honestly how much of a chance could it be realistic to get an infection this way?

Response from Mr. Jacobs

Thank you for writing in. I don't think your question is 'crazy' as much as uninformed how HIV is and is not transmitted. HIV must be deposited from the mucous membranes of one person directly into mucous membranes of another, hence why sexual contact and IV drug use are the most common routes. It cannot be transmitted through casual contact such as hugging, touching, kissing, rubbing cream on oozing sores, etc.

I have no idea if your sister is living with HIV or not but even if she was you would not have been able to acquire HIV from touching her sores with small cuts on your fingers. You'd have to have a WIDE open gaping bloody wound on your hand to even be vulnerable to HIV, and even then, would still need to come into contact with copious amounts of blood, semen, or vaginal fluids. A very unlikely scenario at best, and I don't think there are any reports of anyone receiving HIV this way in the 37 years we've known about it.

Of course the only way you will be certain is to get tested for HIV. Depending on where you live, you don't need to disclose the reason for wanting to get tested, especially if doing so would open you up to mockery or disrespect. They will definitely ask you about your risk factors for their own statistical reasons, but you need not answer them. You always have a right to say, "It's private."

One of our writers at the TheBody.com recently compiled a list of the 10 most commonly asked held fears about HIV transmission shared by our readers. Although your situation was not specifically mentioned, you will see that people do frequently worry about acquiring HIV in casual situations. Medically, it's just not that easy: http://www.thebody.com/slideshows/ten-common-fears-about-hiv-transmission

I hope this information helps you to relax. You sound like a caring and compassionate brother, please don't let HIV fears stop you from helping and supporting others.



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