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Confused about frottage

Question: 

 
Hello,
 
I am a little confused about frottage in the case of heterosexual partners. I have read that it is no risk, but I have also read that it is a theoretical risk. If a man is rubbing the head of his penis around the clitoris and vaginal opening, but not penetrating, does that pose a risk of infection because of the potential presence of precum?
 
Conversely, is there a risk for a man to contract HIV from a woman during this type of frottage b/c of the presence of vaginal fluids?
 
I have read that there is a theoretical risk b/c of the exchange of fluids, but that a) this type of transmission has never been know to happen b/c HIV is transmitted inside the body and frottage doesn't present the optimal conditions for transmission. But, are their factors that could change this? Like if the infected person is in the incubation period is there a higher risk of transmission via frottage?
 
Thank you 

Answer: 

Hi there,
Thank you for using the AIDS Vancouver Online Helpline as your source for HIV/AIDS related information.
HIV requires a direct access to your bloodstream in order for transmission between individuals to occur. The urthera (located inside the penis) is not accessible from the outside, and transmission in a woman occurs via the mucous membranes inside her vagina. For this reason, only penetrative sex poses a high risk for HIV transmission.Also for this reason, frottage poses a theoretical risk as fluid is theoretically able to enter a vagina through a penis rubbing around the outside, however such cases have not been recorded. Both precum & semen harbor the virus, and both fluids may be present & theoretically able to enter the mucous membranes.
In the same sense, there is a theoretical risk for a man to contact HIV from his partner in this situation as (As you said ) - vaginal fluids are again, present. However, it is a bit less likely than the first situation you described (Remember that both are hard, thus only theoretically possible!) because the urethra is not accessible as easily.
Again, your information is correct and I have addressed this above. Is you/your partner HIV+? If so, there is always a risk of HIV transmission if you are not using protection - however the likelihood may be lowered depending on whether the HIV+ person is on HIV medication, what their viral load is, what the exposure is, what the 2 people's health status is, in addition to many other factors.
We are dealing with a lot of theoretical situations here, so I would like to bring your attention to one final point. Regardless of your status, frottage as an activity poses negligible risk of HIV transmission. I would recommend speaking with your HIV+ partner and discussing your thoughts with them, to reach a mutually agreeable consensual agreement on your sexual health & activity. If you are concerned about their health, please ask them.
Lastly, if you haven't been tested already - we recommend all sexually active individuals undergo regular STI testing.
In Health,SashaAIDS Vancouver Helpline VolunteerE-mail: helpline@aidsvancouver.orgPhone (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm): (604) 696-4666Web: www.aidsvancouver.org/helpline