« Go Back

Protected fingering

Question: 

Dear Team,

I fingered a woman who was on her period. I wore a latex examination glove on the hand I fingered her with. There was vaginal fluid mixed with a little blood on the outside of the glove. After the fingering, I carefully removed the glove and my fingers were completely dry no fluids whatsoever on them. I later washed my hands with soap and water after getting home in 15 minutes. I have the following concerns:

1. Say I have some thin peeling skin (not bleeding or painful) just above the cuticle on my fingers, is this an opening that would allow the HIV viral particles to enter?
2. Does it make a difference that I used a latex glove for the fingering?
3. The girl was quite wet during the fingering as we did some foreplay (kissing and touching) so i did not use any lube. My fingering was not rough or aggressive and I'm sure the glove did not break..is this OK?
4. About 30 minutes before the fingering I had washed my hands with water dried them and then rubbed a little Vaseline/lotion on my hands as I usually do. As I was making my way to her home I put my fingers in my pocket and I also tried on another glove before fingering her, which i then discarded because I tore it by mistake. i am sure that any leftover residue (if there was any) from the Vaseline/lotion on my fingers was gone because my fingers/hands felt completely dry before the fingering..i read that oils can weaken latex so would microscopic residues of lotion that I had rubbed on my fingers 30 minutes prior to the fingering episode weaken the latex?

Thank you for your help

Answer: 

Hello,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about the risk of acquiring HIV from fingering a woman while she is on her period. From the information given, this scenario is determined to be Negligible Risk (There are no evidence or no documented cases of transmission).

The scenario mentioned above does not meet the three components of the transmission equation(1). Now, we can break this information down further using the questions you provided to understand why the scenario does not meet the three components of the transmission equation, and is therefore considered a Negligible Risk.

  1. Thin skin peeling above the cuticles that is not bleeding can be considered a superficial cut or wound. This means that the wound is a surface level skin wound and, therefore, is not deep enough to provide direct access for HIV to enter your bloodstream. Direct access to enter the bloodstream is one of the the 3 components of the transmission equation(1) that must be met for HIV transmission to occur. This means that the non-bleeding cuts around your cuticles simply do not provide direct access for HIV to enter your bloodstream.

  2. Using a barrier, such as the latex glove that your described, is an effective method to reduce your risk of acquiring HIV in this scenario. The information we have about barriers typically involves the efficacy of a condom as a barrier. For example, we know that HIV incidence is reduced by 80% with the use of condoms during all acts of penetrative vaginal sex. Condoms do not reduce the transmission of HIV to zero. However, consistent condom usage is one of the primary methods to protect against HIV transmission. In your scenario, using a latex glove as a barrier in penetrative fingering reduces your risk of acquiring HIV. Remember the information from number 1 as well, that there was no access for HIV to enter your bloodstream through any superficial cuts on your hand.

  3. Kissing, hugging and touching are activities that offer No Risk of HIV transmission. You described using a latex glove during these activities as well as while fingering a woman. As discussed above, the latex glove acts as a barrier during the act of fingering, and there was no direct access for HIV to enter your bloodstream.

  4. You are correct that oil-based lubricants such as Vaseline or baby oil can degrade latex(2). We know that such oil-based lubricants can degrade latex condoms and increase the risk of condom breakage. However, in the scenario you have described, you did not use Vaseline as a lubricant on the latex glove during fingering, you used it as a hand lotion after washing your hands 30 minutes before engaging in any sexual activity. The scenario you described still does not satisfy the 3 components of the transmission equation(1) and is still considered Negligible Risk. The latex glove would still be effective in reducing the risk of HIV transmission. Even if the Vaseline had weakened the latex, the glove you finally used did not break, and most importantly there was no direct access for HIV to enter your bloodstream through your hands.

Recommendation: The scenario your provided is considered Negligible Risk. This means that there is no evidence or no documented cases of transmission. If you still have concerns, please refer to Physician for more personalised answers.

Regards, AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Hilary