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fingering and transmitting hiv The Body: Rick Sowadsky M.S.P.H., C.D.S, Answers to Safe Sex Questions
Jan 9, 1997

Mr. Sowadsky, I am the type of person who tends to worry about any sort of intimacy because of the possible exposure to hiv. Yet, I do a lot of reading about hiv and try to stay informed. My question for you is this. I have done my share of kissing around (sometimes french kissing) and have limited my level of intimacy to this. Recently, I met someone and have progressed to fingering her several times. From what I understand, these activities are not considered to be dangerous, but are actually "safer" activities. Do you think that I have much to worry about based on the behaviors that I have described? After all, I am very selective as to what I choose to do with women, but on the other hand, you can't stop living life. What do you think? Do I have any immediate need for concern? Am I at a high risk for exposure? PLEASE write back and let me know. -Fearfully awaiting

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. Kissing and fingering are considered low risk for HIV. If this is all you've been doing, it would be highly unlikely that you are infected with HIV.

Blood, pre-cum, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk all contain high concentrations of HIV, and all have been linked to transmission of the virus.

Saliva, tears, sweat, and urine can have the virus in them, but in such small concentrations that nobody has ever been infected through them. However, if any body fluid is visibly contaminated with blood, the risk of transmission exists.

The HIV virus must get into the bloodstream in order to infect you. If it doesn't get into the bloodstream, you will not get the infection. Blood, pre-cum, semen, vaginal secretions, or breast milk must have direct access to your bloodstream in order to infect you. Activities where this can happen include vaginal intercourse (both partners), anal intercourse (both partners), giving oral sex, sharing needles (IV, tattoo etc.), and rarely through receiving a blood transfusion. HIV can also be transmitted from mother to child. HIV is NOT transmitted through any form of casual contact.

In summary, in order for infection to occur, 3 things must happen:

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

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

Transmission must go directly from 1 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 criteria for transmission, you'll be able to determine whether you're at risk for HIV or not. But do remember that other sexually transmitted diseases (STD) can be transmitted easier than HIV, so what might be low risk for HIV may be high risk for other STD's.

Based on these criteria for transmission, it would be highly unlikely for HIV to be transmitted via kissing and fingering.

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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