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Semen in eye, risk assessment
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Semen in eye, risk assessment

Hi, I recently had an encounter with another male. I had a cold sore on my lip and therefore did not engage in oral sex, but received anal sex with a condom for about 3 minutes, and then took a facial with my eyes and mouth closed. About 5-7 seconds later, I sat up and squinted my eyes open, and they started to burn (burned for a day afterward). Within 15 hours I had diarrhea, low-grade fever, and couldn't hold food down (anything I'd eat would be crapped out and would be the color of what I ate, and then I'd immediately be starving again). All symptoms subsided in a day, but on the evening of my third day after exposure, I had another low-grade fever, which lasted about 8 hours. Two days later, I noticed the beginnings of several weird bumps in my mouth. About 3 days later I noticed that the bumps had become larger and more numerous along my inner cheeks. They weren't really white or open like thrush or other sores, and didn't hurt one bit (I probably wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't looked). The next day, I had dry mouth. This lasted for about a week and the dryness subsided, sores went down, but not away. It is currently 4 weeks after and I've now noticed a red irritation on my penis head with several bumps like swollen pores. Doc told me it wasn't a symptom of HIV, and it didn't look like any other STD, possibly bacterial. Also confirmed cankers. The dryness in my mouth has come back, suspiciously after drinking lots of gatorade.

1) Do my symptoms resemble ARS, given the timeframe and the rate at which they appeared (not all at once, but different things one after another over the course of several weeks)?

2) How long can HIV survive in semen outside the body (if it was on my face), and what are the chances of my getting infected if after 5-7 seconds some of it got in my eyes?

3) If my symptoms were indeed ARS, would testing at 4 weeks likely give me an accurate result if I was infected? Would it be highly encouraging to get a negative at 4 weeks?
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Welcome to our Forum.  The short answer is that there is virtually no risk for HIV from the exposure you describe.  For starters, you o not know that your partner had HIV and statistically, unless you know otherwise, it is unlikely.  In addition however, even in the unlikely circumstance that your partner did have HIV, HIV is not transmitted through the sorts of exposures you describe.  We get many questions of this sort from clients and the answer is uniformly the same.  HIV is not spread in the course of mutual masturbation which, in essence, is what you describe other than your receptive rectal intercourse which was condom protected and therefore safe.  That your initial symptoms came on in less than 24 hours is not consistent with any STD, including HIV. Typically at take 2 an more typically 3 weeks for symptoms of HIV to occur.  In addition, despite your concerns, it is unlikely that the irritation you note in your eye was due to the entry of secretions into your eye during the events you describe.  They eye and its blink mechanism prevent this.  In contrast, you may have gotten soap or some other irritant in. Even if there were secretions present, HIV is not effectively transmitted in this way.

Furthermore, you had been examine by a medical professional who has reassure you that this does not suggest HIV.  In answer to your specific questions:

1.  No they do not.  Wrong symptoms an wrong time course.  ARS symptoms do not typically include diarrhea and typically begin at 2-3 weeks following exposure.  In addition, the symptoms of the ARS are TOTALLY non-specific and when people experience "ARS symptoms" they are much more likely to have something else, usually some other, more typical virus infection.  When this has been studied in the US, less than 1% of persons seeking medical care for "ARS symptoms" are found to have HIV, the remainder having symptoms due to other processes. In contrast, over a given year, there is almost no one who has not had a viral illness, night sweats or both (sometimes on multiple occasions).  In addition, it is also important to realize that many persons who acquire HIV do not experience the ARS.  For a person to try to judge their HIV risk based on "ARS symptoms" is a waste of time.

2.  Briefly although this varies depending on conditions. Could it survive a few seconds?, sure but as mentioned above, even if it was present, it is unlikely to cause infection through the exposures you describe.

3.  Yes they would.  Even though your symptoms are not ARS, a test at 4 weeks would detect more than 90% of new infections so a negative test would be strong evidence to confirm my statements above that there is not risk.

Finally, your questions remind me of a comment my friend and colleague, Dr. Handsfield recently made to another client.  I have posted it in below to reinforce the comments I have already made.


"The reason that some infections are transmitted only by sex, direct blood exposure, and other very intimate contacts (transplantation, childbirth, etc) is that they CANNOT be transmitted by other means.  Why not?  Because large amounts of the causative bacteria or viruses must have direct access to susceptible tissues, which typically are deep inside (gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, HBV, etc); or they must be massaged vigorously into susceptible tissues, often with microscopic trauma (syphilis, HSV, HPV).  This is how these bacteria and viruses, and the human interactions with them, evolved over thousands of human generations and millions of years, and it is an essential biological difference between STDs and, say, colds, influenza, common intestinal infections, measles, chickenpox, and a hundred other infectious diseases.

This is why STDs are not transmitted by kissing, hand-genital contact, contact with a contaminated environment, or from such fleeting contact like you describe here -- even fleeting contact with the genitals.  Nobody can say the risk is zero from what you describe.  But in 30+ years in the STD business, I have never seen or heard of such transmission occurring.  The people who show up in the clinic with HIV or other STDs always have had intercourse or direct blood exposure, as through shared injection equipment -- we simply see no exceptions.

So if there is risk in the sort of exposure described in your question, it is far too low to measure or worry about.  This also explains our universal reassurance to questions about mutual masturbation, contact with potentially infected secretions in the environment, and most sexual exposures other than insertive sex.

Thank you for another opportunity to explain these important concepts.  I'm going to bookmark this thread so I won't have to repeat it again!  But that will be all for this thread.  You need to accept the reassurance you have been given and move on with your life, without fear about this.  No more discussion, please."


Hope this helps.  You really have nothing to worry about.  EWH
4 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you so much for your detailed comment...you have no idea how relieved that makes me feel. I didn't have much space to include this in my initial post, but I asked the guy his status beforehand and he said he'd been tested negative recently, and was always safe & never did anything high risk, and only slept with people he knew and trusted. I was just freaked out by certain symptoms I've never had before. I'll go get my 4-week test to be sure, and follow up with a 3-month for peace of mind, but I can't thank you enough for your time and support.
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Avatar_m_tn
I know I'm not supposed to post again, but I have to ask you...is heat uticaria associated with early HIV infection? I didn't have room for it in my initial post, but I've been having bright red rashes that resemble hives on my legs after any hot shower, that go away in 30 minutes. This symptom started the same day I noticed the sores in my mouth, and has not gone away yet, same with the sores. They both occured a week after my encounter, and have lasted 3 weeks thus far. I also remembered that my doctor mentioned that it could be jock itch on my penis...I didn't know that was a symptom at the time, but I've since read that all three of my symptoms are linked to HIV infection. I know I should feel good about your assessment and confident that my result will be negative, but logic is screaming into my head that this isn't right. What are the odds that I'd have 3 different, unrelated conditions all at once (the jock itch came later though), a week after a sexual encounter? I also had another bout of mild fever today, that lasted about an hour. I know that's possibly unrelated, but it just adds fuel to the fire. I wasn't stressed out all day until I started suspecting that my 'heat streaks' were not normal, as they were far too bright and didn't match the heat streak on my back where the water was pouring most, and the fact that I've never seen that before on my body, ever (and I take hot showers every single day). Anyway, I know it's too much to ask, but would it be possible to comment on this? I'm trying to be normal and sane because I'm forced to deal with people all day, but now I'm afraid I won't be able to get my mind off this while I wait for testing.
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300980_tn?1194933000
A follow-up or two is OK, particularly for clarification.  Let's not get carried away however.

No, your urticaria are not particualrly suggestive of HIV in your situation.  As far as your noting this and other symptom are concerned, I would point out that sometimes after an exposure that, in retrospect, one wishes they had not had, persons tend to examine themselves and be far more attuned to genital sensations than in periods when they are not concerned.  This in turns leads to noticing what turn out to be normal sensations that might have been not noticed or ignored at other times.  Perhaps this was a contributor to your situation.  EWH
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