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Tested in June/88 - Was test reliable then? The Body: Rick Sowadsky M.S.P.H., C.D.S, Answers to Safe Sex Questions
Jan 22, 1997

Had a brief relationship with a woman who had HIV. We had sex 3 times and she performed oral sex on me once. Once time the condom broke, which scared me (and her). I was tested at Berkeley Public Health 6 1/2 months later - results were negative. Three questions: Is it true it's more difficult for a man to extract HIV from a woman? (2) Were the tests reliable back then? (3) Should I be re-tested (I'd prefer not to go through that again)?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

Generally speaking, when we're talking about unprotected intercourse, the insertive partner is at high risk, and the receptive partner is at even higher risk. Note there is no low risk for either partner when it comes to unprotected intercourse (either vaginal or anal). But the receptive partner is at greater risk than the insertive partner.

When it comes to oral sex, the receiving partner is at very low risk (exposure to saliva). The giving partner is at higher risk (exposure to pre-cum, semen, vaginal secretions, or menstrual blood), but the risk is still less than that of intercourse. So it's not a persons gender that determines risk. It's what you're doing with that person (and what body fluids you are being exposed to) that determines your risk. Of course using condoms consistently and correctly significantly reduces your risk for HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's).

The tests used in 1988 were fully accurate. The fact that you tested negative beyond 6 months after your last possible exposure, indicates (with more than 99% accuracy), that you were not infected from this woman. Assuming no other possible exposures to HIV, there is no need for you to be re-tested. 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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