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Fresh Cuts and HIV The Body: Rick Sowadsky M.S.P.H., C.D.S, Answers to Safe Sex Questions
Jan 27, 1997

You say that someone can be infected through "frsh cuts, open sores, abbrations" etc. My question is what constitutes an open sore or fresh cut? You also say that they can be so small as to not be seen! I masterbate with guys from time to time and cum their cum can get on my hands. I have never worried about infection since I never have an "open sore" or "fresh cut"...but now the added "too small to be seen" has got my attention. If the cuts cannot be seen, then one must avoid contact with semen at all costs? Or am I being overly concerned?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

First of all, if a cut is beginning to heal, or if it has a scab on it, it is no longer considered a fresh open cut, and is not a direct access to the bloodstream. But the larger the cut, and the fresher the cut, the greater the risk there would be if blood, semen, etc. were to get directly into that open cut. But once the cut begins to heal, the scab that develops acts as a barrier to prevent HIV from entering the bloodstream.

Cuts and abrasions are much more likely to occur on mucous membranes than regular skin. Mucous membranes are found on the head of the penis, vagina, rectum, eyes, nose, and mouth. Mucous membranes are much thinner than the skin found on your hands and other parts of your body. Therefore, mucous membranes are much more likely to have microscopic cuts and abrasions. If you were to get semen directly in a fresh open cut on your hands, yes, there is a possibility of infection. But there would be an even greater possibility of infection if semen were to get onto a mucous membrane like the mouth or the head of the penis. So don't panic if you get semen on your hands. The skin on your hands is much thicker than the linings made of mucous membranes. The thicker the skin, the less the chance for abrasions and cuts. I hope this made things a bit clearer. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).



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