HIV - Prevention Expert Forum
Massage Parlor Risk
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This forum is limited to prevention of HIV and to safe sex in general. All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Massage Parlor Risk

Doctors,

The other day I decided to go for a massage as an Asian massage parlor.

I undressed for the massage and placed a T-Shirt between myself and the towel underneath. During the massage, the masseuse kept "teasing" my buttocks (no contact with anus, or genitals throughout the massage - thus no sex acts of any kind). At my request, she stopped.

I then sat up momentarily on the table, but my penis (I believe the head) came in contact (briefly - maybe 2 seconds) with the towel underneath.  I don't recall the towel being wet.

Right now, the "what if's" are creeping in my mind. What if the last guy who came in the place had HIV or any other STD for that matter? What if the lady didn't clean or change the towel?  Ect. Ect. Ect.

I read on the internet the virus loses infectiousness when dry - my concern is if the virus was wet in semen or partially dry. (I can't imagine too many people asking about coming in contact with dry semen. If it was dry, how would you know it was there?)

Although my contact with this sheet was at best for 1-2 seconds, my inclination is to forget about this. Perhaps you agree.

I just have this fear that some small amount of virus came off the towel (one of those typical bathroom towels with stringy little ends), and somehow a small bit of virus absorbed into one of those stringy ends, got into the urethra. Not sure if that would create any theoretical risk or realistic risk. Also I lay on the t-shirt for about 20 minutes, before "touching" the towel, hope that was enough time for anything to die.

Thanks JO
239123_tn?1267651214
Welcome to the forum.

They call them sexually transmitted diseases because you must have sex to transmit them.  The main thing that distinguishes STDs from other infections is not just that the genitals are involved.  It's that the causative bacteria and viruses evolved so that transmission requires deep deposition of infected secretions inside the body; or vigorous rubbing of infected material into the skin. (That's why initial infections with HPV, syphilis, and herpes typically appear at the sites of maximum friction during sex -- e.g., the head of the penis or the vaginal opening, and not the scrotum or buttocks.)

Accordingly, nonsexual touching of genitals, or contact with secretions in the environment never results in STDs -- whether in a massage parlor, public toilet, spa, or barbershop.  It doesn't happen.  Aside from the evolutionary biology of the organisms, other biological reasons (e.g. how long viruses and bacteria survive in the environment) are pretty much irrelevant.  The fact is simply that you're not at risk of HIV in massage parlors unless you have insertive sex (unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse) while there.

So don't worry about it.  Ignore any other "what if" scenarios that come to mind.  You aren't at risk, do not need testing, and can safely continue unprotected sex with your regular partner(s).

Best wishes--  HHH, MD
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