18 May 2004

Piercing and VIH transmission: is there a risk?

I have two questions that i would really appreciate be answered.
1) If I have a piercing and semen has come into contact with it, what is the likelihood that I can contract HIV or Hepatitis?
2) How long do I need to wait after exposure to be tested for STD’s?
Thank you very much

Équipe -Pose ta question!-

Dear Katia,
Thank you for asking us your question. It is really relevant. There are a few points that you can consider in order to determine the level of risk involved:
The first of these would be to establish what conditions are needed in order for transmission to occur. HIV transmission will only take place if one of the four body fluids that can transmit HIV must be present (blood, semen/pre-cum, vaginal fluids, breast milk). If one of these body fluids is not present, there is no risk. The fluid also needs a way to get into the blood stream of a second person. Your skin typically provides a layer of protection against all sorts of germs including HIV and Hepatitis, so you can’t transmit the virus through healthy skin. Which brings me to the second consideration of whether or not either of your piercings were healed (average healing time for a tongue piercing is 4-6 weeks and for a lobe piercing is 6-8 weeks). When you get a piercing you are breaking the skin and opening yourself up to greater risks of transmission – though due to the fact that saliva carries such a minimal amount of the virus the risk of HIV transmission in this scenario is incredibly low (almost zero, actually).
In your case, the risk of being infected with an STI (sexually transmitted infections) is low. However, there might be a very small risk of transmission due to the contact of semen and your piercing. If treated quickly, many STIs do not cause long term problems. However, infections that are left untreated for a long time can cause problems for a person, including possibly cancer or sterility.
To be reassured and be on the safe side, we suggest that you visit a doctor and test tested. It’s generally recommended to wait about two weeks after a sexual relation where there was a risk of transmission for the tests to be able to detect the STIs. If you do not have a regular doctor or if you feel uncomfortable going to your regular doctor, a doctor at any clinic, hospital or CLSC will be able to examine you and prescribe an appropriate treatment. There is also an organization called Head & Hands which provides services, including medical services, specifically to young people. You can book an appointment and see a doctor there by calling (514) 481-0277. Remember that if you are over 14 years old, your medical information is confidential. This means that whatever is in your medical file is private and your doctor cannot share it with anyone without your permission, not even with your parents or your sexual partners.
Finally, you can also address your questions directly to ACCM, the Aids Community Care of Montreal, a primarily English organization, at www.accmontreal.org.
Wishing you all the best,
AlterHéros Team