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HIV transmission from massageThe Body: Rick Sowadsky M.S.P.H., C.D.S, Answers to Safe Sex Questions
Dec 29, 1996

Dear Rick, I was involved in a massage session two times which ended with the massuse's masturbating me with her hands. She used baby oil both times. I have done a lot of reading after this incident and have begun to feel sick for what I've done. How likely HIV transmits through an incident like this? Do you think that I should be tested? I was tested negative month after this incident. However, my reason for taking the test was another incident that had occured 6 months ago. I really appreciate your work. Thanks.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

Let me review with you how HIV is, and is not, transmitted. If this woman was just masturbating you, you would be at very low risk of infection. Since you mentioned testing, I will also review with you the accuracy of the antibody tests.

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:

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

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

3) 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.

In regard to the accuracy of the test:

The AVERAGE period of time that an infected person will show positive on the test is 25 days. This is an average, so not all people will test positive by this point in time.

The USUAL period of time that an infected person will show positive on the test is 3 months. This means that most (but not all) infected people will show positive on the test by this time.

The MAXIMUM period of time that an infected person will show positive on the test is 6 months. By this point in time, more than 99% of infected persons will show positive on the test. This is as accurate as any test in medicine could ever be.

For the most accurate test result, you must wait 6 months after your last possible exposure to the virus (or anytime afterward). At 6 months, the tests are more than 99% accurate. If you get tested before the 6 month waiting period, you could have the infection but the test won't pick it up.

Also, if a person tests negative at the time that they are showing symptoms, that indicates that their symptoms are not AIDS related. A person first shows positive on the test (by 6 months after infection), and then later shows symptoms (an average of 10 years after infection). So if a person tests negative at the time that they're showing symptoms, that indicates that the symptoms are not AIDS related.

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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