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MAKING OUT WITH A LIP PIERCING IS A RISK??? VIRGIN GIRL NEEDS HELP!! URGENT!!

Question: 

Hello,

I'm a 21 years old heterosexual girl who's never had sex or came close to having it. Recently ( November 3rd) I met a guy ( HIV status unknown, though he later on told me he was not HIV+ positive) and we made out for a long time. We didn't do anything else. We met a couple more times in the next 20 days, and every time we would just make out ( deep kissing with tongue, biting, etc..He even left a hickey on my neck once). Then, I stopped seeing him around November 23rd, and I went out with a different guy ONE TIME.

The second guy also told me he was not HIV+. We made out on our date, and I tried giving him a hand job without condom. I stopped before he came. I don't really have any deep cuts on my hand except for the occasional stuff that hangs from my nails. I'm not sure what to call it. He also fingered ( or better to say just touched) me over my clothes ( leggings and underwear) for a few seconds. I never saw him again.

Now on week 6 ( from seeing the first guy) and 5 ( from seeing the second one), I got a sore throat, coughing, sneezing, and I did feel kind of cold around the house a few times ( might be a bit of fever??). I've been trying herbal remedies, and did not see a doctor, and my symptoms are getting better. I've definitely had worse colds. I should mention that before getting my symptoms, I did sleep in a somewhat cold room, went out a couple time without a coat, left the window open a couple times in my bedroom, and I spent a lot of time with my cousin who was sick at the time ( sore throat and coughing). We had a sleepover, I did her makeup, we shared meals, etc...

Do you think I should get tested for HIV? Is it possible to get it through kissing if the other person has blood in their mouth? Does my piercing make the risk higher? I got my piercing on September 25th. It was over a month old when I made out with the first guy. Oh, and also, I briefly kissed another guy during a truth or dare game at the beginning of October. It only lasted a few seconds, and I didn't get any symptoms. He's a friend of mine who's sexually active and smart enough to know how to be safe. Please answer me. I have never been this scared in my life. The idea of getting HIV without even having sex ever in my life sounds so terrifying yet silly at the same time. Please answer me.

Thank you!!!

Answer: 

Hello there! Thank you for reaching out to the AIDS Vancouver Helpline with your concerns.

It sounds as though you're beginning to explore your sexuality and need some help in assessing what situations could put you at risk for HIV and STIs, so you can comfortably and safely enjoy your encounters.

HIV is a fragile virus which can be transmitted from person to person through the direct exchange of body fluids. It cannot survive outside the body, and so requires a direct route from the first person into the bloodstream of the second person. We have a transmission equation which shows this in some more detail, and it is this chart that we look to when assessing risk for all our clients:

HIV TRANSMISSION EQUATION

BODY FLUID
+
ACTIVITY
+
DIRECT ACCESS TO BLOODSTREAM
• blood (including menstrual) • unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse • vagina
• semen • sharing needles • anus
• pre-cum • mother to child (in specific cases) • urethra in the penis
• rectal secretions • open cuts and sores (in theory)
• vaginal fluids • other mucosal membranes
• breast milk • points of needle injection

= RISK OF HIV TRANSMISSION

You may notice that saliva is not listed in the transmission equation, and that is because saliva is not a fluid that transmits HIV - in fact, it actually inhibits transmission to some degree. For this reason, kissing is considered a no risk activity. So, in answer to your question, there is no need to take a HIV test due to your 'make out' sessions.

I notice you ask is the risk higher with a piercing?, and I can let you know that this is not an issue as long as the piercing is healthy (ie - not infected). It is recommended that a lip piercing be removed for activities such as oral sex because there is a potential to catch the piercing on your partner, resulting in pain and bleeding for one or both of you, which (as well as being unpleasant) could increase the risk of transmitting HIV and STIs. Some things you might consider if you do decide to perform oral sex with the piercing in: try an ornament which is less likely to snag, take it easy, and use plenty of lube to minimise the risk of hurting yourself.

Take a look at our Risk Assessment Chart which lists many activities and the associated risks. Some people find this is really helpful for planning their encounters, and also for reference after an encounter as to whether a test is really necessary. For example, you say that you gave a 'hand job' to a guy, and on the Risk Assessment Chart "non-insertive masturbation" is another no risk activity, and so testing is not necessary.

We do not look to symptoms to diagnose HIV. Many people who acquire HIV experience no symptoms at all, and of those that do, their symptoms can be very similar to other viruses and possibly misdiagnosed. The only way to be 100% sure of one's HIV status is through testing, which is why it is recommended that all sexually active people include regular HIV and STI testing as part of their routine healthcare. With regards to your symptoms, because you have only engaged in no risk activities, it would be reasonable to say that these are not caused by HIV.

Here at AIDS Vancouver we understand that there are many ways to explore our sexuality - the most important thing is that we do so safely. Condoms are an effective and popular way of reducing the risk of transmission for HIV and many STIs, but they're not the only way. One of our favourite websites for more information on STIs and sexual health is the Smart Sex Resource (provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control), and there you'll find great information both on how to protect yourself, and also when to test after an encounter.

I hope that this information helps you to feel less scared about acquiring HIV. It's so great that you're asking these questions now, and I hope that understanding the risks will enable you manage and enjoy your encounters in the future.

My very best wishes

Wendy (Volunteer)

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online
Monday-Friday 9am-5pm (PST)
1 844 INFO-HIV (Toll free Canada & U.S.)
helpline@aidsvancouver.org
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