Sex with prostitute — HIV?

Originally Published: December 1, 1994 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: July 17, 2012
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Dear Alice,

I had sex with a prostitute in a penthouse in New York City early last year. I used a condom and everything went smoothly (i.e., the condom did not break or anything). For some reason, I have recently become very scared about HIV. What are my chances of contracting the virus from this incident?

—Worried and Anxious

Dear Worried and Anxious,

Condoms have been determined as an effective way to prevent the transmission of HIV. As long as your mucous membranes (i.e., your urethra) did not have contact with the prostitute's vaginal fluids, and you had no open sores or cuts on your hands or in your mouth that came into contact with the prostitute's vaginal secretions, you have very little to worry about.

In this situation, there are a few other things to think about. Firstly, the prostitute had to be infected with HIV in order to transmit the virus to you. Secondly, the number of sexual encounters as well as the types of encounters play a part in the transmission of HIV. With HIV, a single act of unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse may be sufficient for transmission. However, it is believed that in the vast majority of cases, repeated exposure to the virus through multiple sexual acts is necessary for transmission to take place.

If you're having a hard time calming those nerves, you can always have an HIV test. You can speak with your health care provider about testing, and/or visit a site that provides the test. Columbia students can receive a free and confidential HIV test through GHAP. For more information about HIV/AIDS, you can check out the related questions, as well as The Body and Avert.org.

Alice