HIV - Prevention Forum
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Avatar universal

HIV from Bloody Oral During Acute HBV

Hi Doctors,

Thank you for this forum and for your help. I know that the common wisdom is that oral is not a risk for HIV, but I have a situation, which I think may pose an HIV through oral worst case scenario. I got some advice on the Health Forums, for which I'm very grateful, but wanted to ask you about my particular set of circumstances.

I've copied my original question below.

On Friday, May 17th, I received unprotected oral from someone whom I believe to be a higher risk for HIV (African American, CSW from a very rough part of town - not an escort). I mention this without bias. My understanding is that statistically it matters. I understand that the general consensus is that oral carries no risk of HIV but there are a couple items which I think might make things different in my particular case. I'm not implying that my situation is special or unique. I just think I screwed up big time.

1.) Though I did not bleed (I checked for scratches and cuts), I am uncircumcised.
2.) She did bleed some. There were visible streaks of blood on the head of my penis. Not copious amounts, but enough to see without strain.
3.) On Sunday, May 19th, I was diagnosed by an ER doc, and subsequently by a specialist with Acute HBV. Didn't know I had it. I noticed my urine was very dark that Sunday and went in to get checked. I'm right in the middle of hopefully clearing the infection.

I'd like to know, based on these factors and my partner's characteristics, how elevated is my risk of having contracted HIV.
11 Responses
239123 tn?1267651214
Welcome to the foru.  Thanks for your question.

You are correct that an African American sex worker, is statistically more likely than most persons to have HIV.  However, it depends somewhat on geography as well; if you're in Washington DC or any number of other eastern urban areas, the odds would be a lot higher than in, say, Denver, San Francisco, or Phoenix.  And even in the highest risk settings, most such women in fact don't have HIV.

As you already know, and as commented by Teak in the community forum, oral sex has rarely if ever transmitted HIV in the oral to penile direction.  While blood contact during such an exposure in theory might raise the transmission risk, oral lesions that bleed aren't all that rare (dental problems and many other possibilities) -- so there must have been millions or billions of fellatio events with HIV infected partners that also involved blood exposure, but still no clearly documented cases of oral to genital transmission.  So that aspect doesn't significantly elevate your risk.

To my knowledge, there are no data to suggest that acute HBV infections raise the risk of HIV infection if exposed -- and I don't see it as biologically likely.  So your recent diagnosis also doesn't alter my perspective.

Of course the other issue, which you don't address, is the source of your HBV infection.  In itself, that's a major red flag signalling HIV risk -- not because of susceptibility (as just discussed), but all behaviors and exposure events that transmit HBV also are high risk for HIV.  The usual incubation period of hepatitis B is 2-3 months, sometimes as long as 5 months, so it seems likely you had a substantial blood or sexual exposure in that time frame.  On that basis, it wouldn't be all that surprising if you were found to have HIV.

That said, most doctors would automatically test any patient with new HBV infection.  If that was done and negative, you can dismiss it.  As for your recent oral sex exposure, I really don't see a high priority for HIV testing -- but if you would like the additional reassurance of an expected negative result, you can be reliably tested any time more than 4-6 weeks after the exposure, depending on which test (or comination of tests) are done.

I'll be happy to comment further if you would like to post either a current or future HIV test result.  In the meantime, I hope this has been helpful.

Best wishes-- HHH, MD
Avatar universal
Thank you doctor for such a detailed response to my question. I'm very grateful for your time and expertise.

You're correct, the specialist that confirmed my HBV diagnosis had me tested for HIV (1/2). The results came back negative.

If you don't mind doctor, I have 3 follow-up questions:

1.) As I read your response, I understand that you're saying, that the fact that I was in the middle of an a Acute HBV infection does not raise the risk of acquiring HIV during the oral episode on May 17th. Is that correct?

2.) Would the fact that my immune system is currently fighting an Acute HBV infection, potentially delay seroconversion for HIV? Does the immune system work in a first-come, first-served basis?

3.) I spoke to the a phone rep from the CDC and they told me that there was a test that I could take for earlier detection. I believe it's PCR-RNA and it's valid starting 9-11 days after the event. Can I take that test? Is it worth it?

This will be my last post for a while. I don't expect to bother you again until 4-6 weeks. I'll come back to post my results. Hopefully negative.

Thanks again doctor.
239123 tn?1267651214
1) Correct.

2) There are no medical conditions known to interfere with HIV antibody test reliability, with the theoretical (but unproved) possibility of advanced life-threatening conditions like overwhelming sepsis, terminal cancer, etc.  There is no known effect from other acute viral infections like hepatitis B.

3) PCR testing can give reassuring results in the time frame you suggest, but you still would need an antibody test after 4 weeks, so PCR doesn't actually reduce the time to a definitive answer.  And it's quite expensive and probably not covered in this situation by most health insurance policies. For these reasons, it's generally reserved for much higher risk situations than yours.  But it's something you could discuss with your doctor.  Peraonally, I certainly wouldn't do it if somehow I were in your shoes.

Thanks for the thanks.  Take care.
239123 tn?1267651214
By the way, the CDC's STD/HIV phone hotline is run by contract to the lowest bidder.  The phone rep probably was not actually with CDC, but probably a low-paid, minimally educated person who was following a script.  CDC's hotline is pretty good for some things, but not for more sophisticated medical issues.
Avatar universal
Thanks again doctor. I'll return in 4-6 weeks to post my results. Until then, please take care.
Avatar universal
Hi Doctor,

I've been waiting out the window period of my last potential exposure (the oral on May 17th) and plan to get a blood test in the next couple weeks. This time has been very stressful but I've been using it to try to learn to manage my anxieties, and hopefully develop better decision-making skills and impulse control.

As I mention above, I haven't had a blood test yet. In the interim, I have however had an OraQuick In Home HIV Test. This is the oral fluid swab test. I administered it myself at the 6 week mark. I very carefully followed the instructions in the package, waited the 20 minutes for the results, and received a non-reactive. The control line showed up very clearly while the test line did not; not even faintly.

I understand that this result is in no way conclusive for the May 17th event. I've also read that the rapid oral swab tests are less accurate in detecting early infections. I took the test, not for closure, but hoping that it would be non-reactive and give me somewhat of a picture--albeit limited--of my status. Obviously, the result also helped relieve some anxiety that had been building.

I have two questions:

1.) You mention in your first response that "The usual incubation period of hepatitis B is 2-3 months, sometimes as long as 5 months, so it seems likely you had a substantial blood or sexual exposure in that time frame." Based on the shortest possible incubation period from your response (2 months), how accurate would you believe the test I took to be at 14 weeks after a "substantial blood or sexual exposure"?

2. At 6 weeks, is there anything I can glean from the non-reactive result of the test, in regards to the May 17th event? Is there a level of accuracy we can assign at that time frame or was it completely worthless regarding that event?

I apologize for the long post. Doctor, thank you again for your time. I will not consume any more of it until I have had a blood test.
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
These tips can help HIV-positive women live a long, healthy life.
Despite the drop in new infections, black women are still at a high risk for HIV, the virus that causes Aids.
What are your HIV treatment options, and how do you choose the right one? Our panel of experts weighs in.
Learn the truth behind 14 common misconceptions about HIV.
Can HIV be transmitted through this sexual activity? Dr. Jose Gonzalez-Garcia answers this commonly-asked question.
A breakthrough study discovers how to reduce risk of HIV transmission by 95 percent.