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Risk of biting on nipples with exposure to blood
Aug 6, 1998

Two weeks ago my HIV+ partner was biting my nipples and suddenly he started bleeding through the nose. Some of the blood fell on the nipple he was biting. I immediately washed the blood away, but I'm afraid I might have gotten infected. His viral load is currently undetectable. Am I at a risk for infection?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question.

This is one of those unpredictable situations that nobody can expect to happen ahead of time. In real life, strange things do happen. When you are trying to determine your risk of infection (whether it is a common occurrence like intercourse, or an unusual occurrence such as what happened here), the best way to determine your risk is to remember the following requirements for HIV transmission to occur:

1) You must be exposed to pre-cum, semen, vaginal secretions, blood, or breast milk, AND

2) The virus must get directly into your bloodstream through some fresh cut, open sore, abrasion etc., AND

3) Transmission must go directly from one person to the other very quickly.....the virus does not survive more than a few minutes outside the body.

No matter what the circumstances are, if you think about these 3 requirements for transmission, you will be able to determine whether you are at risk for HIV or not.

In your specific situation you may have indeed been at risk since:

1) you were directly exposed to his blood, AND

2) his blood may have had a direct access to your bloodstream (depending on how hard he bit your nipple, and if the skin on the nipple was broken), AND

3) his blood had the opportunity to go directly from his body into your body within minutes.

There is always the possibility that you did not get infected. But the more blood that you were exposed to, and the more that the skin on the nipple may have been broken (from the biting), the greater your risk would be. If the skin on the nipple was not broken, then there would not be a significant risk of infection. For more information on the many variables that can determine the risk of transmission, read the posting What determines the chances of infection?.

In this case, I would recommend that you consider getting tested for HIV. Nobody can predict the chances that you became infected under such an unusual occurrence. All we can say is that there was a possibility of infection.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).



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