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HIV and AIDS

How Risky Is My Exposure?

02/14/2001

Question:

Hello. I visited a sex worker exactly 16 days ago and proceeded to have protected oral sex (me being the reciever only) with her. After that, when she attempted to mount me, my erection faltered and so I asked her to just finish it orally.

I did not penetrate. My penis tip sort of just grazed her vagina, but was inside her outer lips. Anyway, I removed the condom (wet with saliva, or something else?) and kind of brushed my penis with the same hand, noting some fluid there (maybe pre-cum?). I did not notice if the condom broke or not.

Now I`m very worried that I had accidentally introduced infected vaginal fluid onto the tip of my penis or maybe the condom broke, but I didn`t notice it. In the last 12 days I`ve had sore throat, runny nose, chest pain, watery eyes. I feel feverish too. My doctor already took a baseline blood test, but says it will likely show nothing, being too soon. How risky was this incident?

Answer:

The risk associated with this exposure is very small but not negligible. However, there are many things which would reassure me that the true risk is very low: Greatest risk is associated with penetrative sexual intercourse especially if there are any cuts, tears, ulcers or other breaks in the intact skin or lining. Because of this the risk associated with the brushing of some fluid onto the tip of your penis is very low but not nil as it is impossible to know what the fluid seen on your penis was. The time from exposure to the development of any symptoms (the incubation period) is between 1- 12 weeks with most acute HIV illness being seen between 2 - 4 weeks after exposure. Therefore the fact that you have a sore throat, runny nose etc is very unlikely due to HIV as it is too early and is much more likely to be due to a common cold. All in all, your risk is likely to be very, very low - but please continue to use condoms and preferably maintain your sexual contacts within an monogamous relationship.

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Response by:

George   Smulian, MBBCh George Smulian, MBBCh
Assistant Professor of Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati