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HIV from finger nail scratch on shaft


Thank you for all the wonderful work you guys are doing!

I was fooling around with a woman of unknown status (Let's assume she is positive) and she put her finger in her vagina and then put it down my pants and accidently scratched my shaft. Could this transmit? Please answer



Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about your risk of HIV acquisition after a sexual partner inserted their finger into their vagina and then proceeded to accidentally scratch the shaft of your penis . From the information given, this scenario is determined to be No Risk (transmission of HIV is not possible in the given scenario).

It is important to note that it is not helpful or reliable to speculate on a person's HIV status based on appearance, sexual orientation or occupation. This is why when assessing risk of HIV transmission we focus on the activity engaged in and not on the people involved.

The scenario mentioned above does not meet the three components of the transmission equation(1). It does not satisfy the equation because:

  • For transmission to occur there must be HIV present in a bodily fluid(ie: in blood, semen or rectal secretions), direct access to the bloodstream(ie: the vagina, anus and other mucous membranes) and a risky activity(ie: unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse, sharing needles, mother to child).

  • There must be an exchange of bodily fluids.

  • HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on surfaces), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host(2).

In the scenario you described, we can classify the activity as non-insertive masturbation (ie: receiving a hand job). We understand that the other person had vaginal fluids on their finger, reached down your pants and accidentally scratched the shaft of your penis. The scratch that you received would be considered a superficial wound. This means that the scratch is not deep enough to provide direct access for HIV to enter your bloodstream and there was no exchange of bodily fluids. Remember from above, that HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on surfaces like a finger), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host(2). This means, that any vaginal fluids on the other person's hand when you were scratched were outside of the host, exposed to environmental conditions and were thus unable to reproduce(2).

Recommendation: No need for HIV test with the scenario provided, please refer to your physician for any other health related questions.

Regards, AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Hilary