HIV or HPV From Stripper's Thigh?

Question

Dear Dr.

Recently while at a strip club, I stroked the thigh of a dancer. I had a hangnail from biting my fingers a day before. While I stroked her thigh I saw/felt that she had a healing cut that was dry. My palms and fingers ( Palm side) came in contact with it and I immediately removed and went and washed them. The dancers cut had dried blood that sealed the cut ( like a shaving cut, dark brown lining) . Fairly certain my hangnail couldn't have touched the healing cut. When I immediately washed my hands, applied a hand sanitizer there was no stinging. I know that there are real cases that you'd have to focus your efforts on but I would be grateful if you can asses my risk of hiv/ hpv transmission. I have OCD which is flaring up pretty close to my wedding. And while I do a good job in the treatment of it is prohibiting me from doing my job.

Answer

The good news here is that the activities you are describing put you at virtually no risk for HIV or HPV. HIV is not transmitted through simple skin contact, and does not survive long outside the body. It must have a direct route of transmission from one person's body into the mucous membranes of another, hence why sexual transmission or IV drug transmission are the more common routes between adults. Simply having contact with another person's dried scab while you have a hangnail does not put you at risk. Similarly, HPV is also a sexually transmitted infection that is not spread through casual contact. And if someone does not have HIV or HPV, they would not be able to transmit either to others.

As a couples therapist, I am more concerned with your anxiety levels than your sexual risk factors. Do you and your spouse have agreed upon negotiations about visiting strip clubs, and/or intimate touching with others? Although your actions don't put you at any risk of needing treatment for STIs. they certainly can put you at risk of needing marital treatment if agreements and trust are being breached.

Before getting married, you may wish to consider speaking to a therapist about your OCD issues. If these aren't treated at some point, then they may eventually interfere with your relationship regardless of your physical contact with other women. If visiting a strip club induces this much fear on your part, that perhaps it is not the healthiest option for you or your future marriage at this time.