Anonymous
Hi I have a question. I shaved my pubic area and a day later had sex with a woman at high risk for HIV. I used a condom but I noticed that I had itchiness and inflammation where I had shaved, with red bumps and general redness where hair was starting to grow back. I didn't have any cuts. What is my risk of being infected if a lot of her vaginal fluid came in contact with this red, itchy and inflamed skin that I shaved. I am worried because I read that having superficial inflammation increases number of regional white blood cells and can increase risk. Thank you.
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Anonymous
Hi and thanks so much for contacting AIDS Vancouver with your question.

It sounds like you're worried about your risk of acquiring HIV because of shaving before having sex.

I notice that you mention having sex with someone who you say is at high risk of having HIV, here at AIDS Vancouver we focus more on the activity than the person. Thinking about it in this way helps to reduce the stigma around HIV.

Regarding your situation, the risk associated with protected sex is Low Risk. This means that there have been a few reported cases of infection, but these happen only with certain identifiable conditions (e.g.condom breaking, partner is known to be HIV positive, *and* there was another STI present).

In regards to your inflamed skin, for HIV to be transmitted there needs to be direct contact with the blood stream. This is because HIV cannot survive once exposed to air. Since you didn't have any cuts that were not deep enough to require medical attention as well as the vaginal fluid that came in contact would have been exposed to air therefore we would consider this to be "No Risk".

Something that you may find useful for assessing your risk in the future is the *transmission equation*:

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
Finally, you're partially right about white blood cells contributing to a higher risk for STI's and HIV. When we think of white blood cells being active, it is more in relation to infections or having another STI. not an inflammation of the skin because of shaving.

Though your risk level is Low risk, , we at AIDS Vancouver do recommend regular HIV testing for anyone who is sexually active, no matter the risk level because it always good to know one's sexual health.

If you have any other questions about HIV you can find a lot of information on our website: [www.aidsvancouver.org](www.aidsvancouver.org). And if you're living in the Greater Vancouver area you can call our helpline anonymously from Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, at 604 253 0566 Ext. 299.

Thank you again for contacting us, and we hope we gave you the information you needed.


Sabina Volunteer

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online

Monday - Friday 10am-4pm (PST)

604 253 0566 Ext. 299

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