We're nearly 30 years into the HIV pandemic, yet a shocking number of people still appear not to know the first thing about HIV. We get to see some of that ignorance firsthand in our "Ask the Experts" forums, where we're sometimes amazed at just how paranoid some folks are about whether they've been exposed to HIV.
We scoured our "Ask the Experts" forums at TheBody.com and nominated 15 posts we feel are the "best of the worst" of 2009 (or the worst of the worst, depending on how you look at it). They're some of the oddest, most nonsensical questions we've seen people ask about HIV this year. Some are shocking, some are sad, many are hilarious -- and they're all reminders of how far we still have to go to educate the world about HIV.
Hundreds of you voted on which of the 15 finalists represented the most bizarre post from our "Ask the Experts" forums during the past year. Each post was rated from 1 (not strange) to 5 (extremely strange). We then tallied up the votes, with a rating of 5 worth five points, and a rating of 1 worth one point.
The "Winner" (a.k.a. the Loser)
Silent but Deadly?
(Total Points: 2,384)
I inhaled some scentless farts recently. I know inhalation is a route of medicine administration, so things you inhale do get into your bloodstream. I also have a weak immune system so that increases my chances of contracting HIV (I have a master's degree in public health, so I know about these things). Should I get tested?
The Final Fourteen
Here's how the fourteen other finalists shook out:
Can My Own Mr. Happy Give Me STDs?(Total Points: 2,145)
Can I get any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) from sucking on my own penis?
I'm a Virgin, but I'm Always Contracting HIV!
(Total Points: 2,090)
I am 23, I've never engaged in any sexual act and I've never done any drugs or shared any needles. However, since I was 14 years old I've felt as though I've been contracting HIV every day or so from bizarre conditions. Just to name a few: haircuts, waitresses with cuts on fingers, people pricking me with needles, blood coming in contact with cuts on my body (I have a mean cat), or fluids getting into my eyes or nose. In a few situations, I have had every single acute HIV symptom exactly two to three weeks after the event. I am extremely afraid to get tested and don't know how I would handle a positive result.
Lord of the Flies
(Total Points: 2,063)
I killed some flies with a sheet of paper and then used scissors to scrape off the remains. A day or two later, I accidentally cut myself with those same scissors and drew blood. What if those flies had HIV in them? Did I put myself at risk?
What if a Baggage Handler Handled Himself on My Baggage?
(Total Points: 2,054)
Could a disgruntled baggage handler have ejaculated on my toothbrush in an attempt to give me HIV? We had luggage problems after missing a connecting flight. When I finally got my luggage and arrived at my hotel, I took my brand-new toothbrush out of my bag, applied toothpaste and brushed. My toothbrush smelled just like semen, plus there was a slippery fluid in the plastic bag. Should I get tested?
Ever Wonder What's Really in Your Moisturizer?
(Total Points: 2,048)
I bought a bottle of body lotion from Walgreens but didn't open it for a few days. When I finally did, I noticed the lotion seemed especially thick on the top. My friend insisted that I shouldn't use the lotion; he says some people open up lotion bottles and put semen in them to try to infect people with HIV. Is this true?
Next, on a Very Special Grey's Anatomy ...
(Total Points: 2,036)
I'm a medical resident. What if someone came into my on-call room when I wasn't there and put HIV-infected cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in my contact lens case, and then a couple days later I put the contacts in my eyes? Could I get infected this way?
HIV Risk in a Dog-Eat-Barf World
(Total Points: 1,927)
If my dog eats an HIV-positive person's vomit, can he get HIV?
The Paranoid Pimple-Popping Porn Purveyor
(Total Points: 1,873)
I have a friend who buys used porn DVDs online and then gives them to me. Recently I went through all the DVDs, then minutes later I did some "acne surgery" on my face. I suddenly realized that I hadn't washed my hands and had been touching a pimple-popping wound the size of a dime! If the previous porn-DVD owner managed to spill some jizz (ejaculate) on the discs or covers, could I have touched it and put myself at risk for HIV while pimple-popping?
Batteries Not Included, but What About HIV?
(Total Points: 1,824)
I recently purchased a dildo and other novelties from an online adult store. I used all the toys and even made sure to put a condom on the dildo. Now I'm freaking out because not long after using the sex toys, I became sick with flu-like symptoms -- a sore throat, backache and dry cough. I'm so worried because I rarely get sick! I then did some research and found out about acute HIV infection. What if someone tampered with my sex toys before they were shipped?
The Cable Guy: After-Hours Edition
(Total Points: 1,796)
I let a man who was hooking up my cable use my restroom. After he was done, I heard him saying that he might have AIDS. So when he left, I cleaned my bathroom thoroughly. I have been so worried ever since. Could he have contaminated something in my bathroom? I have three kids and I'm very concerned. I've been having headaches, back pain, nausea and fatigue.
Maybe It's Time to Update My Resume ...
(Total Points: 1,793)
About two months ago, a man threw semen into my eyes, mouth and nose at work. Judging by the man's behavior, I believe he was masturbating behind the counter. What is my risk of contracting HIV? Should I get tested at the three-month mark?
The Flavor Lasts, but What About the HIV?
(Total Points: 1,785)
I was visiting a class on a college campus. I pulled up a desk and felt a piece of gum someone had stuck under it. I had just cut my finger really badly with a knife the day before. If the person that chewed the gum had HIV and got blood on the gum, and then I rubbed my cut finger on the gum, could I be at risk for HIV?
This Meal Is Snot What I Ordered
(Total Points: 1,767)
A friend of mine who is HIV positive was eating spicy food and his nose was running. He used his left-hand finger to clear his nose, and then used the same hand to spoon some curry from a bowl onto his plate. Afterward I used the same spoon to take some curry. If his nose fluids fell into the curry bowl and I consumed some of it, would I be at risk for HIV? Should I get tested?
Rub a Dub Dub, Fallin' in the Sex-Club Tub
(Total Points: 1,462)
I slipped in the shower of a sex club and got a gash on my head from the tile floor. Since this was a sex club, it's conceivable that everybody who takes a shower there has semen on him. I wonder if any of the residual semen on the wet floor could transmit HIV, especially to a fresh, deep wound.