Fresh cut in Peep show booth
Nov 7, 1996
About a week ago, a few friends and I got VERY drunk and entered a "nude peep show." Inside are a series of small booths, the walls of which are often covered with semen from previous occupants. The reason why I'm writing is because while being driven on the way back, I noticed that I had acquired a small (1/2 cm) FRESH cut on my hand. I don't know where I got the cut... it was either in the peep show or the car. If I did get it in the peep show, I'm not sure whether the cut came into contact with any of the semen on the walls of the booths. Because I was so drunk, I'm VERY worried that my cut might have come in contact with some of the semen on the booths without me knowing it. My questions are 1. what is my level of risk as a result of this ONE incident? 2. I heard that many people who are infected get ill within the first few weeks... what PERCENTAGE of infected people get such an illness and what is the exact WINDOW PERIOD for this illness to show? 3. Since the semen I might have come in contact with was on an external surface rather than "fresh", does that mean that I am "safe"?
Response from Mr. Sowadsky
Thank you for your inquiry. In response to each of your questions:
"what is my level of risk as a result of this ONE incident? Since the semen I might have come in contact with was on an external surface rather than "fresh", does that mean that I am "safe"? "
It's hard to say whether you were even at risk in the first place. In order to become infected, three things must occur:
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.
It would be extremely unlikely that semen would get from a previous customer, directly into your bloodstream within minutes. Theoretically, just about anything is possible, but realistically, the chances of you becoming infected this way would be very remote.
"I heard that many people who are infected get ill within the first few weeks... what PERCENTAGE of infected people get such an illness and what is the exact WINDOW PERIOD for this illness to show? "
It has been estimated that up to 70% of individuals with HIV infection will develop symptoms of an acute viral syndrome. There is no exact period of time before this syndrome will appear, other than to say the symptoms usually appear within the first 4-6 weeks after infection.
Within these first few weeks after infection, some people with HIV show symptoms due to "Acute Viral Syndrome". This occurs during your bodies initial response against the virus. During this time, a person may show symptoms that look exactly like the flu (headaches, body aches, fevers, fatigue etc.). The symptoms last for a week or two, then go away by themselves. They do NOT persist for many weeks or months. Some people who acquire HIV may have severe flu-like symptoms due to Acute Viral Syndrome. In other people with HIV, these symptoms may be very mild. In still other people with HIV, they may not show these symptoms at all. A person may, or may not, show positive on an antibody test during this period of time. I must strongly emphasize here that the symptoms of Acute Viral Syndrome look exactly like the symptoms of other illnesses, so having flu symptoms does not indicate HIV infection, in of itself. It is also important to remember that not all people will get Acute Viral Syndrome, and in those that do get it, the severity can vary from person to person.
So all in all, your risks of infection are considered quite low. And don't let symptoms scare you. I must strongly emphasize that every symptom associated with HIV/AIDS looks like the symptoms of other illnesses. So just because you may have flu-like symptoms, doesn't necessarily mean that you have acquired HIV through this incident. If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide). Rick Sowadsky MSPH CDS
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