HIV transmissions as a result of one person's semen entering another person's open wound or open cut are theoretically possible, but no cases have ever been documented.
Assessing the Risk
It's true that if an HIV-positive person's semen enters the bloodstream of another person, HIV may be passed on. Semen is much more likely to enter another person's body (and result in HIV transmission) during sex without a condom.
If you are concerned about an incident in which you had contact with another person's semen, it's worth noting a few points:
- If the semen came into contact with undamaged, unbroken skin, there is no HIV risk whatsoever.
- HIV is not transmitted via superficial scratches, such as paper cuts.
- A cut or wound that is in the process of healing and scabbing over is unlikely to allow entry of the other person's semen.
- HIV does not survive long outside the body, so the risk from semen left behind on objects is minimal.
It's also worth asking yourself if you have any reason to believe that the person whose semen you had contact with is living with HIV.
If you are concerned about a recent sexual encounter that may have exposed you to HIV, the best way to resolve these fears is by getting an HIV test. It's the best thing you can do not only for your own health, but also to help ensure that HIV does not spread to others (if you do turn out to be HIV-positive).
More on Transmission Risks at TheBody.com
Our Q&A experts sometimes address questions about open wounds and transmission in our "Ask the Experts" forums. Here are some of those questions and our experts' responses:
- Semen on chapped lips
Last April, I gave a guy a blowjob. His pre-cum came into contact with my chapped lips, but I didn't swallow any semen. What's my risk?
- After I removed the condom...
I had protected sex with a sex worker. Afterward, I touched the tip of my penis while my fingers were potentially still wet with her vaginal fluid.
- Can I give myself HIV/AIDS?
I masturbated without realizing I had a cut on the side of my thumb. Did I put myself at risk for HIV?