Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Peter, I got semen in my eyes. Can I get HIV this way?

[Peter Pointers is here 4 YOU, as a service to LifeLube readers - whatever question you may have regarding sexual health, physical health, mental/emotional and spiritual health - ask him. He will find the answers you are looking 4. Below is a recent Q&A you may be interested to read.]

Question: I had an oral and jerk off sex with a guy. When he was coming and reached the climax, some semen got into my eyes... I used tissues and then tried to rinse it with water. Can this cause a possible HIV infection?

Answer: Thank you so much for your question. I'm happy to hear that you are educating yourself about different risks involved with sexual activity.

To give a short answer to your question, yes, this is a possible risk for HIV transmission. Since the eye has a mucous membrane and since semen is one of the four bodily fluids that transmit HIV (the other three being blood, vaginal secretions, and breast milk), infection is theoretically possible. However, there are some important pieces of information that you can consider. There are relatively few HIV transmissions through fluid contact with the eye (most of those being medical providers that had blood spray into their eyes). It’s difficult to know, with semen in the eye, however, if a transmission occurred because of contact with the eye or because of other sexual contact (which often occurs before or along with the money shot to the eye).

It is also important to remember that if your partner was not infected with HIV, then there is no risk of transmission. Are you able to ask them if they have been tested recently?

If you are unable to discuss your partner’s HIV status or you know that they are infected with HIV, one immediate action step may be to seek out Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). However, PEP needs to be accessed quickly after exposure (within 72 hours). Click for more information on PEP.

My other suggestion would be to seek testing for HIV. A rapid HIV test, which is the type typically used at many clinics and outreach locations and looks for antibodies (your body's reaction to HIV) to HIV, done at 4 weeks after exposure provides a pretty reliable result. The average for people to produce enough antibodies to be picked up on a test is 25 days. However, the official time period that is approved by the makers of the tests states that it may take up to 3 months after exposure to give a highly reliable test result.

There are other test technologies available that significantly cut down the wait time for an accurate HIV test (some as short as 7-10 days). I would be happy to help you find a testing location if you provided me with your zip code. If you are in Chicago, I can help you find a test that has a shortened wait period. If you live outside of Chicago, I would suggest contacting your local health department and asking for information on getting tested for HIV. Another source for HIV locations is www.hivtest.org.

Of course, we would advise that you refrain from having sex, if possible, until you are able to be reliably tested for HIV. If you do have sex, try to wear a condom if possible.

I hope this answers some of your questions about your situation. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Also, let me know how everything goes.

Be Well,
Peter Pointers
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