Worried HIV Case Manager

Question

Dear Dr. Bob,

I feel embarrassed to ask this question but I have to. I am a case manager for HIV positive people. I interact with my clients alot. We hold a support group and plan activities together. Part of my job is to also educate the community on HIV, which is why i feel even more embarrased to ask this. I have clients who have sores on their skin. The sores don't ooze blood or anything but they are sores non the less. My question is, could I be exposed to HIV by maybe having skin to skin contact with my clients. Lately i have been very sick. I have been getting the flu on and off. Yes, I know its crazy but sometimes i think I might have become infected somehow. HELP! please!

Answer

Hi,

No reason to be embarrassed about asking a question here! Have you taken a gander at the archives? Absolutely no topic is off limits or out of bounds on this site! After all it's all about life, love, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll! (Well actually I prefer classical music, but you know what I mean.)

Regarding your HIV question, HIV cannot permeate intact skin. No way. No how. It can permeate mucous membranes (lining of the vagina, urethra, etc.). Consequently if an HIVer's "sore" comes in contact with your intact skin, there would be no transmission risk. However, it's always good hygiene to keep sores covered with a Band-Aid whether you are HIV positive or not.

Dr. Bob