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Can HIV Be Transmitted Through Vaginal Sex During Menstruation?
Aug 12, 1996

Several months ago I had vaginal intercourse with a prostitute in the Philippines using a condom. After I ejaculated and withdrew, we discovered that she was having her period. I did not have any genital ulcers and I have never had a STD. 10 days after this event, I became ill withy flu symptoms - night sweats, low grade fever, coughing, tiredness. Is thera real possibility that I was infected. I am scared to take an HIV antibody test. Please let me know what you think. Thank You.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

In reality, as long as you used a latex condom, and it was used properly and did not break, your risks of infection would actually be quite low. Latex condoms used consistantly and correctly significantly reduce the risk of HIV, and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's). If the condom were to break, then you would be at risk of infection with HIV and other STD's.

Both a womans vaginal secretions and menstrual blood contain high concentrations of HIV. If you're exposed to these body fluids, you would be at risk of infection. But since you did use protection, as long as the condom remained intact, your risk would be very low.

Your risk of infection with other STD's is actually higher, as compared to your risk of HIV. Since this was a prostitute, you're dealing with a person at high risk for all STD's, including HIV.

As to your flu-like symptoms, that can be due to almost anything. Some people recently infected with HIV can show flu-like symptoms soon after infection (within the first few weeks after infection). These symptoms last for a week or so, then go away by themselves. But flu-like symptoms can be due to many, many causes. There is no way to link your symptoms to HIV.

Flu-like symptoms can be due to many types of infections including bacterial infections, parasitic infections, and other viruses. So your symptoms really say nothing as to whether you became infected with HIV or not.

The only way to know whether you became infected or not is to get tested.

As long as it's been 6 months or more after a possible exposure to the virus, the antibody tests are more than 99% accurate at picking up an infection. That is the only way you can know whether you have HIV or not. I must emphasize however that since you were using condoms, your risk was greatly reduced (as long as it was a latex condom and you used it correctly).

I realize that it can be scary to take an HIV test.....but the fear of not knowing can be more scary than knowing whether you have HIV or not. If you get tested and it's negative, at least it will give you peace of mind, and you can put this incident behind you. If you are positive, with early medical intervention, we can help a person out more than ever before. So there are definite advantages to getting tested.



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