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Fingering and a 14 hour abrasion
Dec 20, 2001

Here is the situation. I tore a piece of skin off my thumb early in the morning (near the bottom of my nail). I'm not sure, but maybe the whole epidermis. There was some bleeding which stopped after I applied some pressure with a tissue paper (about a minute). That night (14 hours later), I had an encounter with a sex worker. That area of the thumb might have been exposed to her vaginal fluid. Assuming she is HIV positive, am I at risk? Thank you very much.

Response from Mr. Kull

You are at risk for infection when HIV infected fluids come into contact with your mucous membranes or bloodstream. Whether or not those requirements were met in your case is not clear (was the sex worker HIV positive? Did the abrasion give HIV access to your bloodstream?). However, it is crucial to remember that fingering is very low risk activity. There is actually no evidence to support that people have been HIV infected through inserting or receiving a finger in the vagina or anus. Many people have small abrasions or cuts on their hands or fingers, and we still do not see transmission occurring this way.

Try to remember how HIV is spread:

1)Anal, vaginal and oral sex

2)Blood-to-blood contact (injection needles, health workers)

3) Mother-to-infant

RMK



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