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Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 18459
Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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Simple question - has anyone ever gotten HIV from a massage

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Simple question - has anyone ever gotten HIV from a massage which did not involve genital touching? I love swedish and thai massages and often go for them to relax. I am always naked but never have any form of genital touching (they might rub my bum cheeks but i don't consider that sexual!). The masseuse is always clothed. I do occasionally have pimples on my back and legs. I have read extensively that HIV is just impossible to catch this way but would like to have this clarified once and for all by an HIV expert. I would also like to know WHY it is not caught like this. I am told the main reason is that oil destabilises the virus; the virus is only carried in fluids like vaginal secretions/blood and HIV just isn't something you rub into skin even with spots or small abrasions on it - can you clarify so i can enjoy my massages without any fear or guilt.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Hello from JustAnswer. No, HIV cannot be transmitted by a massage, even if there is genital touching. HIV can only be spread by blood and certain body fluids in which the virus remains viable, and it then needs to be able to enter the body of the recipient through th blood stream or a lining that it can penetrate. The virus becomes non-viable very quickly once outside of the body. It cannot be transmitted by sweat. It cannot be transmitted through intact skin. Even if the virus is in a fluid in which it is viable, such as semen or vaginal secretions, it will still become non-viable once outside the body, such as on a toilet seat. So, during a massage, there is no potentially infected fluid coming from the infected person nor is there any route for the virus to enter the body. Note that a massage that includes genital touching may involve contact with a lining that the virus can penetrate, but since there is no potentially infected fluid coming from the infected person, there still is no risk of infection. It is also worth noting that for any condition that does not carry any risk, it is possible to have some risk if there are open wounds. If the infected person has an open wound that is bleeding, then there is potentially infected fluid, and if the recipient also has an open wound, then the virus could potentially enter the body. So, if both individuals have open wounds, there is a potential for transmission. This is not a risk of getting a massage - this is a risk of bleeding and open wounds. If there are open wounds, then any activity that is considered to not be risky, such as shaking hands, can become risky. If the recipient of the massage has an open wound that started as a pimple, then there could be risk if there is also an open wound that is bleeding on the hands of the masseur/masseuse. But if there is no open wound in both individuals, there still would not be any risk. If I can provide any additional information, please let me know.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
hi - thanks for this. In my case there was absolutely NO genital touching so the only possible viable transmission route is this "wound" to "wound" scenario. In all cases of the massage i cannot recall any blood or wounds on the hands or arms of the masseuse. As I said, on my body I have some pimples but they were not bleeding at the time of the massage. I think what got me worried was that I had a few pimples on my hip area emerge POST massage and wondered if somehow I had contracted something whereas I assume this is much more likely to be an eruption due to blocked sweat glands etc.. (i can take a pix if useful)
I assume the scenario you outline of where blood gets from one wound into another wound and transmits HIV is very rare? And when I say very, I mean very rare and probably not worth me worrying about? In other words, would you ever say "go get tested asap" if everyone walked into your doctor's office having had a non genital massage as per the description above? We are also of course presuming the masseuse had HIV whereas my hypothesis is it is unlikely given all were white caucasian women , 2 of whom had kids with monogamous relationships. However, I know that is not a guarantee!!
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Yes, wound to wound transmission is very rare, and certainly not worth your concern and not worth getting tested. I would never test a patient based solely on such an incident, and that would be true even if a masseuse was not in monogamous relationship. Recommendations for testing are not based on assumptions of monogamy. If a individual feels secure in their own relationship, that is fine, but making a similar assumption of other individuals is not wise and the medical recommendations for when testing should be done will not make that assumption. However, even with that understanding, there is no reason for testing because of a massage such as you have experienced.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes all clear
So why have I got some itchy pimples post massage especially on hip area which is where masseuse pressed hard? They are a tad itchy. Can massage lead to such skin eruptions? I assume they release toxins etc
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
There are many possible causes of a reaction to a massage, but none of them involve infection from HIV. It is possible to transmit germs that are not sexually transmitted via the hands. It is also possible to develop allergic or sensitivity reactions.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
thank you - so the most likely cause of these spots is a form of contact dermatitis or some such - what would you suggest i apply to them? i took some pixes of the spots. quite a small area.
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
An over the counter hydrocortisone cream would be reasonable to use.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
fine - what do the images look like to you
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
It looks to be an allergic dermatitis.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
possibly the oil being used or the friction of the hands on the skin? they did a lot of pressure release work.
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
It could be to any substance.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
ok you have reassured me enormously. i am sure i will not make medical history and be the first person to get hiv from a non sexual massage and i do , then i will be an unlucky bugger. i think something just triggered some anxiety.
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
I am glad I could be of assistance.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
final point and then will rate - wound to wound transmission from my reading does seem to require a)open wounds b)quite a significant amount of blood and c)deep exchange of the fluids. So, the chances of a masseuse with a bleeding hand which was covered in a layer of oil (which would presumably destabilise hiv) rubbing her hands deep into an open wound of mine seem quite remote? As I said i had pimples with some heads on them but i didnt have any visible blood before or after the massage so the presumption would be v v little / no risk to the extent not worth testing? correct?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Correct. As I said above, there is no reason for you to be concerned or tested.
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