STDs Expert Forum
Contact with vaginal fluid
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Contact with vaginal fluid

Doctor,

A girl I met at a bar (overseas 2 days ago) and I went back to her place and we both masturbated and are hands never touched each other's genitals and we rubbed our own genitals. After her and I both climaxed, she got up, grabbed a towel and wiped her genital area off and tossed the same towel at me to use to wipe myself. The towel with her vaginal fluid  landed on me and touched my genitals before I caught it. I immediately grabbed the towel with her vaginal fluid off my penis and tossed it aside and did NOT use the same towel to wipe myself. I immediately went to use the bathroom and touched my genitals to pee without washing my hands first (which is stupid considering I touched the towel that had her vaginal fluid on it).

Neither of us directly touched each other's genitals and the only possible contact with vaginal fluid was from the towel she used to wipe her vagina that briefly landed on my penis when she tossed it at me and when I used the bathroom and touched my penis after grabbing the towel.

I guess what I truly don't understand is if vaginal fluid poses a risk outside of the woman's body for STDs/HIV and why?
Also, here are my concerns:

(1) What is my risk for an STD with this type of contact with vaginal fluid and should I get tested?
(2) Should I be concerned about HIV and get tested since her vaginal fluid came in contact with my genital area via the towel? Also, I don't think I had any cuts on my hands when I grabbed the towel, but if I did, is there a risk for HIV from grabbing the towel with vaginal fluid and coming into contact with a possible cut?
(3) Is HPV a concern?

I read on the CDC website that HIV does not survive outside of the host's body, so is it safe to say my risk of HIV exposure is zero in this instance and I don't need to get tested? Thanks for educating me and providing a peace of mind.
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Welcome to our Forum. There is a theoretical risk for transmission of STD including HIV from this activity in the same way that there is a theoretical risk of a meteor falling from the sky and hitting you as you read this reply.  It is not something to worry about.

The organisms which are sexually transmitted, including HIV are quite fragile and begin to die as soon as they are outside of the body.  Furthermore, when they come in contact with material (such as a towel) they tend to stick and stay there.   In addition, contact of genital secretions with normal skin in the absence of sex does not result in transmission of infection. Despite the fact that mutual masturbation is common and that millions of people have gotten each other’s genital secretions directly on one another through masturbation, there has never been a case of HIV transmitted in this way. This is just not something for you to be worried about.  There is no need for concern and no need for testing.  EWH
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Thanks for the peace of mind! I always try to be safe and it sounds like using mutual masturbation when I don't have condoms is still safe sex. Thanks for your help and it looks like I am doing the right thing.
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Glad to help.  EWH
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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