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Invisible cuts on fingers?
Aug 12, 1996

I was reading "Understanding and Preventing AIDS: A book for everyone" by Chris Jennings (Available at this web-site) and it states: "Exposure to blood, either on the hands or in the eyes and mouth, have been responsible for HIV infection among healthcare workers.(Invisible lesions, wounds, are often present around the cuticles of the fingenails.)" Is this really true? If so does this mean that getting infected semen or vaginal fluid is a high risk activity? If so, is mutual masterbation a high risk unless I use a glove?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

HIV must enter the bloodstream in order to infect you. HIV can enter your bloodstream either through a fresh open cut on the skin, or through a mucous membrane. Mucous membranes are found on the head of the penis, the vagina, rectum, eyes, nose, and mouth. If blood, semen, or vaginal secretions were to get into a fresh open cut on the skin, or into a mucous membrane (listed above), there would be a risk of infection. The larger the cut/open sore, the greater the risk would be. Also, the greater the quantity of infectious body fluid that you would be exposed to (blood, semen, vaginal secretions etc), the greater your risk would be.

Mutual masturbation is considered safer sex, but not safe sex. Safe sex means there is no risk of infection. Safer sex means there would be a risk of infection, but the chance of infection would be very low. During mutual masturbation, you could become infected if, for example, semen were to get onto a fresh open cut, or if semen were to get into the eye. But, if semen were to go onto intact skin, you would not be at risk of infection. Since HIV getting into the bloodstream is unlikely during mutual masturbation, this would be considered safer sex. But since technically there would be a risk of infection (as described above), it would be considered safer sex, not safe sex.

The healthcare workers who became infected with HIV were usually exposed to large quantities of blood, so they became at substantial risk if the blood got onto a fresh open cut, or into their eyes, nose, or mouth. Again, the more infectious body fluid you are exposed to, and the larger the cut/open sore, the greater the risk would be.

So all in all, mutual masturbation is usually a low risk activity for HIV, but under some circumstances, HIV infection could potentially occur. However HIV transmission during mutual masturbation is not very likely.



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