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Why So Much Bad Info?

Jul 11, 2001

Mr. Kull,

I jhave noticed that there is a lot of incorrect information out there and I was wondering what the lack of consistency can be attributed to? A quick example if I may. My docter said not to get tested after performing oral sex on a womam once, even if I suspected she was HIV+. The Canadian hotline says its up to you. However many internet sites make it sound as though oral sex in general can be very risky. As a peson who engaged in just one risky act, this contradiction can be confusing, frustrating, and scary. Your site is one of the best I have found and I thank you for that. Just hoping you could help me understand why there are so many different opinions out there. Thankyou.

Response from Mr. Kull

It seems that your experience is not unusual. The proliferation of complex scientific and medical information on the Internet can be quite confusing, and there is plenty of contradictory information out there. Remember, information on the Internet is not necessarily regulated; anyone can create a website that serves as a platform for their personal opinions, even if those opinions are harmful or misleading. Always do a check-up on the info you get. If you can't trace the information back to some reliable or well-regulated source (like government sites, or The Body), trash it. And remember, people make mistakes (even me!).

Making a decision that concerns one's health is often not as exact as one would like. It is a creative process that can include instinct, science, education, and experience. Some people find one resource, like a doctor, in whom they put all of their trust, and are comfortable with that approach. Others, like you, a healthy skeptic, prefer to pull together information from different resources to develop an understanding and decision that is as informed as possible. There's really no "right" way to do it.

People often visit this forum looking for an "exact" answer; they rarely exist when it comes to HIV and many other health issues. This is indeed frustrating, but science is not, nor never will be, flawless.

Getting an HIV test IS up to you. If you have sexual contact, there is a theoretical risk for HIV infection, and that justifies testing. However, it is not always necessary and sometimes a waste of time, energy, or resources. It is highly unlikely that you would get infected by performing oral sex on a woman (only a few cases of transmission through cunnilingus have been documented in the United States), but there is a small possiblity. Your doctor and the hotline are actually not contradicting one another: just an example of different approaches that sound well-informed. The call is up to you.

The "very risky" information is just plain wrong.


Rash...never can get a good description...
needle stick

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