HIV from lap dancer's hands?

Originally Published: October 2, 1998 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: July 5, 2012
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Dear Alice,

This web site is really informative, so thank you for making it available to people like me. I have an HIV concern. I went to a strip bar in Mexico City with a few friends. We decided to get lap dances. Unfortunately, the lap dancer put her hands down my pants and touched my penis. I removed her hands, but she giggled thinking that it was a joke. She did this a few more times. What are the risks of me contracting the HIV virus, if she touched herself (vaginal fluids) and then it got into the urethra of my penis. I don't know if it is possible for it to get to the urethra with less than two seconds of contact each time she touched me. I am circumcised as well if this makes a difference. Thank you so much for your time.

Dear Reader,

In the hands of your private dancer, your chances of getting poison ivy were significantly greater than your chances of contracting HIV. Here's why: HIV can be transmitted from a woman to a man when HIV-infected vaginal fluid enters the urethra (the opening at the tip of the penis). However, in order for this to happen, your penis would almost certainly have to be inside the dancer’s vagina.

Secondly, HIV is a fragile organism. The virus can only live outside of the body for a very short time. Your mambo partner may have been quick with her hands, but not nearly quick enough to pass on HIV. Another critical factor is the actual HIV status of the dancer. Although you might be in fear of your own status, it is not fair to make assumptions about whether or not a person has HIV. Remember, bar dancers, strippers, and other sexual entertainers can practice safe sex and be careful about their health, too!

When you travel south of the border (or anywhere else, for that matter), STI prevention is just one of many important considerations. Hanging with people you know and trust, keeping an eye on your belongings, and never accepting drinks from someone who you don’t know are some more useful tips for staying safe while abroad.

If your worries about HIV continue to cloud your sunny vacation memories, you can always get an HIV test (not to mention tests for other STIs). Although your risk of infection was very low, you ultimately have the right to know your status.

Alice