The most popular question

I have dug into the e-mail archives to find out which is the most popular question people ask me….If you guessed “Can vitamin supplements help fight HIV?”— guess again. If you guessed “How long can I live with HIV?” not that one either…the question I am asked most often…would you believe is…drum roll please….is about cuts and open sores. Here are some of the questions that readers have asked:

“I don’t have any cuts on my penis. I checked very carefully, but I slept with a girl who might have HIV, am I safe?”

“ So, if a chick alibe ma sores and I don’t have any, is there any way for HIV to infect me?”

“I fingered this girl. I dunno [don’t know] her status but my hands don’t have any cuts and I made sure I washed it very well afterwards. Is there any chance I can contract HIV?”

Note…that the question usually comes from guys.

And here ladies and gentlemen is the response:

People are often misled by the notion that during sexual intercourse the only way to become infected is through the open cuts and sores. This is only partly true.

HIV is spread during vaginal sex when HIV-infected semen, vaginal fluid, or menstrual blood comes into contact with the mucous membranes of the vagina or penis. In general, since there is more mucous membrane area in the vagina, and a greater possibility of small cuts in the vagina, women are more likely than men to get infected with HIV through unprotected vaginal sex.

Teenagers and women entering menopause are at high risk of getting HIV (and other sexually transmitted diseases) because the tissue lining of the vagina is more fragile at these ages.

Cuts or sores on the penis or vagina raise the risk of HIV infection during vaginal sex for both men and women. Sexually transmitted infections also increase the risk of HIV transmission.

Cuts present on or in genitals can be invisible to the naked eye. HIV cannot cross healthy unbroken skin, but it can enter through an open cut or sore, or through contact with the mucous membranes.

Transmission risk is very high when HIV comes in contact with the more porous mucous membranes in the genitals (vagina and penis), the anus (the bum), and the rectum which are inefficient barriers to HIV.

Transmission is also possible through oral sex because body fluids can enter the bloodstream through cuts in the mouth. Likewise transmission is possible during masturbation or “fingering” if cuts are present.

Using a male latex condom or a female condom lowers your risk of getting HIV through vaginal sex.

Share This Post