Dear AIDS Vancouver,
First off, I want to say how impressed I am by your website and its information.
I am a bisexual man and am trying to educate myself better on HIV prevention so I can have less anxiety about my sexuality and more empowerment to express it safely. There is so much info on the internet, and a lot of it is contradicting.
I have three questions for which I’m looking for thorough, research-based answers. (If you don’t mind just letting me know you’ve gotten this email, that would be great). To understand my questions, this is my experience: I met a guy recently, a stranger. He reports being HIV negative and on PREP but very sexually active. I stroked him for a few minutes but I’m not sure if he had pre-cum; he says he doesn’t think he did but is not sure. He did not ejaculate. He stroked me very briefly, I did not pre-cum or cum. That was it.
1. Does my experience constitute as mutual masturbation in your terms? Smart Sex Resource says mutual masturbation is a low-risk activity but is more theoretical than real. How is mutual masturbation theoretically a way to pass HIV? Do you have any statistics on this specific sexual act and HIV transmission?
2. My biggest concern is that somehow his precum got into my urethra when he stroked me. Can HIV pass through the urethra this way? Are there any cases of this happening?
3. Some websites say HIV can only be passed into the bloodstream. Other websites I’ve read say that it can also get though a cell membrane. (I know this question is connected to question number two, but I want to understand the difference between membrane and blood as ways of transmission and if both are, in fact, ways HIV can pass to someone, ie the inside of the urethra).
The more detailed you can be, the better. I’m a scientific guy. If you want to send me papers, stats, or research on these questions, I’d appreciate that too.
I will happily become a donor for your organization as I am so impressed by what you do.
Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about a few specific questions about what constitutes an act mutual masturbation and about HIV transmission. I will answer each question in the numbered format you provided:
The activity described above can be classified as a type of mutual masturbation in which two or more people are masturbating each other. In terms of risk, this activity is determined to be No Risk (transmission of HIV is not possible in the given scenario). HIV is not passed through giving or receiving a hand job (1). This activity is non-insertive masturbation and does not meet the three components of the Transmission Equation.
In the scenario you have provided, the pre-ejaculatory fluid from your partner does not have direct access to your bloodstream. If the fluid was transported from his penis to yours on his hand then it is likely that there was sufficient exposure to oxygen to render the virus inactive. HIV cannot survive long outside of the body and will no longer be infectious once exposed to oxygen (2).
Please refer to these Figures for a comprehensive understanding of how skin and mucous membranes are involved in HIV transmission in various regions of the body. Please note that underneath each layer of skin, regardless of location, there are blood vessels that cells within the top layers are able to migrate into.
Recommendation: No need for an HIV test with the scenario provided, refer to a physician for other health related questions.
AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Marie