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Risk of infection after sex with herion addict The Body: Rick Sowadsky M.S.P.H., C.D.S, Answers to Safe Sex Questions
Jan 9, 1997

For about two months (April-May) of 1996, I had a relationship with a man who was a herion addict (he had been using for about five years). One night we 'fooled around' unprotected. Being a virgin at the time, I stopped him before he fully penetrated me. I do know there was precum present. He had tested negative for HIV the year before, but hadn't been tested for at least 7-8 months. What I want to know is what is the risk of infection given these factors? I've noticed an increase in problems with digestion (in the past couple months), lack of appetite and insomia, but I was diagnosed with severe (suicidal) depression and have been in and out of therapists offices for the past year. I am planning on getting tested but in the meantime want to keep keep my head from driving me crazy with worry. What are my chances of being positive? thanks

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. It's very difficult to precisely determine how much risk you were at. If this guy did not ejaculate inside of you, your risk was greatly reduced. The less infectious body fluids you were exposed to, the less your risk would be. However, since pre-cum can still be a risk, all we can say is that you were at some risk of infection, but LESS of a risk than had he ejaculated inside of you.

Your risk would actually be greater for Hepatitis B, which is 100 times more infectious than HIV, and is commonly seen among IV drug users. I do suggest you consider getting tested for HIV, Hepatitis B, and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's) as well.

The good news is that since it's been more than 6 months after this exposure, the tests are more than 99% accurate in determining whether you became infected or not. Without testing, there is no way to determine what is the cause of your symptoms. The symptoms you are having may even be due to your depression, and may be totally UNRELATED to HIV, Hepatitis, or other infectious diseases. Only a physician, and laboratory testing, can determine the cause of your symptoms. However, symptoms related to HIV are usually NOT seen 6 months after infection.

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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