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Paper Cut

Question: 

Hello, I have a question regarding the possibility of HIV exposure.

Before having intercourse, I got a paper cut as I unwrapped the condom. I did not notice this event, and after intercourse, I touched the condom to remove it and noticed my small cut.

Assuming that tiny cut touched vaginal fluids or remains of menstrual blood, is it technically possible to be at risk of HIV transmission? Should I take PEP just in case?

Please advise.

Thanks !

Answer: 

Hi there and thank you for reaching out to AIDS Vancouver with your questions. We're happy to help!

To answer your question, the scenario that you have described above is considered a no risk situation. Small, superficial cuts do not pose as a risk for HIV transmission. To help explain, here is a copy of the AIDS Vancouver Transmission Equation that we use to determine whether or not there is a risk of HIV infection:

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

In order for there to be a risk of HIV transmission, all 3 factors (body fluid, activity, and direct access to the bloodstream) must be present. The main thing lacking in your interaction is direct access to the bloodstream. In order for a cut or wound to provide said access, the cut needs to be gushing blood and require immediate and professional medical attention. A superficial wound like the one described in your question does not provide direct access to the bloodstream.

If you're interested, here are some great resources to help further your understand about HIV Transmission:

Avert and CATIE are two fantastic and reliable website concerning HIV transmission and testing, and I highly encourage you to take a read through if you have any further questions.

I hope I was able to answer your question, and feel free to contact us with any further concerns.

Regards,

Sierra, Helpline Volunteer

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online
helpline.aidsvancouver.org