[Question #2074] Shared sex toy?

47 months ago

Doctor,

I would like your feedback on one further question. Recently, one of my flat-mates had some people over to our flat while I was away. Several people (two men [I think one gay] and one women) slept in my room. My flat-mate met these individuals at a bar and did not know them well. I arrived home just as they were leaving.

Within a few minutes of arriving home and settling into my room, I used a dildo (inserted the dildo into my anus) while masturbating. It was only later that I began to become concerned.

My flat-mate told me she believed these people had sex in my room. My concern was that my dildo was on a shelf next to my bed. What if one (or several) people (I’m most worried about the gay male) who slept in my room had used the dildo before me. As I hope is clear, this is not a scenario in which I was having a sexual encounter with someone and we used the dildo interchangeable. Rather, my concern is what if the people sleeping in my room used the dildo just before they left [meaning just before I arrived]. I do not know exactly how long it was before these guests left and I used my dildo, but I used it very quickly upon my arrival back in my room. So it may have been only a minute or a few minutes in between when the guests potentially used my dildo and when I did.

I looked online and found information which suggested that the estimated risk for HIV transmission in receptive anal sex [the bottom partner] is 1 in 200. In this situation, I would be the “bottom partner” since I inserted the dildo into my anus. From what I understand, my risk would be significantly lower than this for the following reasons: [1]: the people who slept in my room probably did not have HIV, most people, including most gay men, don’t have HIV [2]: the people who slept in my room probably did not use my dildo [3]: even if they did use my dildo, my risk would be lower than the 1 in 200 number for receptive anal sex because any HIV fluids on the dildo would have been exposed to air and room temperatures before being introduced into my anus. I’m very much hoping that [3] is decisive in reducing my risk.

Given 1, 2, and 3, could you give me a risk estimate? Would you recommend testing?

I tried to get the contact information for the people who slept in my room but my flat-mate did not have it.

H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
47 months ago
Sorry to see you back so soon, and with another question that suggests you have misunderstandings about HIV transmission risks. Nobody has ever been known to be infected with HIV via a sex toy, excpet possibly when used with an infected partner -- i.e. when the toy was wet with vaginal or anal fluids, or blood, from the partner. In other words, if such a toy goes immediately from an infected person into the rectum or vagina of someone else, there might be some risk. However, even this has never been reported to my knowledge. Certainly there is no risk if sexual secretions or blood have had time to dry, so even after a few minutes there would have been no signfiicant risk risk. And undoubtedly you would have noticed if the dildo were wet when you used it. Also, I would remind you that the odds either of the couple who had sex in the room had HIV -- and also no particular reason to suspec they used the dildo anyway.

For those reasons, I agree exactly with your reasoning; all three points are correct. (The likelihood of HIV transmission to the bottom partner in anal sex is actually higher than you quote, about 1 chance in 70 according to the latest estimates. But that's only with personal sex, not with a dildo, and only with an known infected partner.)

So I consider this a zero risk event, or very close to zero. I do not recommend HIV testing on account of these events.

I hope this information is helpful. Best wishes and stay safe--

HHH, MD

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47 months ago
Thanks doctor. Do you think this warrants testing for any other STDs, such as HSV2 or anything else?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
47 months ago
No, I do not.

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47 months ago
Dr. Handsfield,

Thank you so much for your answers. I feel much better. I wanted to use my last follow up question for two points of clarification:

1. All are HIV fluids equally infections? For example, is blood more infectious than semen? Is semen more infectious than vaginal fluids? I take it that if blood was on my dildo this would be equally no risk (and no reason to test) in the same way if semen or vaginal fluid was on my dildo.

2. Several weeks ago I was at a hotel with my girlfriend and we both saw a smaller blood smear near the toilet handle in the bathroom of our hotel room. We had sex immediately after we saw this blood smear and also were having a lot of sex over the course of the weekend (oral, vaginal, anal). 

In a previous answer you wrote: "You can ignore and disregard this and any futhrer contacts with liquids in the environment, money, or personal contact with other people other than sexual or needle sharing. If you are not at sexual risk and do not share drug injection equipment with other people, you will never be at risk." 

I was wondering if since my girlfriend and I were having sex immediately after we saw this blood smear, does this count as a potential sexual contact with liquids? What I think you meant was that this sort of indirect contact with blood or other liquids is NEVER a risk, even if I have sex afterward, and something I do not need to be concerned about.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
47 months ago
1) Saliva, tears, urine, and sweat rarely contain HIV, at least not enough to transmit, and contact with them is no risk. All other fluids (blood, sexual fluids, etc) have variable levels -- each can be higher or lower than the other at any point in time. But when it comes to dildos and environmental exposure, this is the wrong question anyway. Whatever the levels of virus or other biological factors, nobody has ever been known to be infected by environmental exposure. So no worries.

2) You correctly understand. Having sex in presence of, or after contact with blood or body fluids in the environment is not risky for HIV.

Please note the forum does not permit repeated questions on the same topic or exposure. This being your second question on these issues, it will have to be your last one; future new questions about this exposure, testing, and your fears about HIV or other STDs will be deleted without reply and without refund of the posting fee. This policy is based on compassion, not criticism, and is designed to reduce temptations to keep paying for questions with obvious answers. In addition, experience shows that continued answers tend to prolong users' anxieties rather than reducing them. Finally, such questions have little educational value for other users, one of the forum's main purposes. I trust you will understand.  
  
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