Yes, it’s possible to get HIV from putting the tip in. And that can be from putting the tip of a penis into the butt, vagina, or mouth.
The risk of getting HIV from the tip varies between the body parts and other factors, like whether you’re the one giving or receiving said tip, if one or both parties are taking HIV meds, and more.
Let’s break down some common scenarios to help you gauge your risk.
A condom or barrier was used
Breathe. As long as the barrier was used properly and didn’t rip or slip off during sex, you’re probably good.
Barrier methods like condoms are one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections ( STIs), making it highly unlikely that your tip-dip — or even full-on pound-fest — would result in infection.
You’re taking PrEP
If you’ve been taking PrEP daily as directed, your chances of contracting HIV are low.
Their viral load is undetectable
There’s no need to fret the tip or the rest of their peen if their viral load is undetectable.
A person whose viral load is undetectable can’t transmit the virus to others.
They didn’t ejaculate
The risk is definitely lower if they didn’t ejaculate, but it’s not entirely risk-free.
Semen isn’t the only bodily fluid that carries HIV — pre-cum, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids and mucus, and blood can, too.
It happened only once
Once is all it takes if the viral load is high enough and you have unprotected penetrative vaginal or anal sex.
It was over real quick
It’s still possible because pre-cum makes its appearance when someone gets turned on, and there’s always some vagina fluid hanging around.
Also, if there’s blood involved — even a microscopic amount that you can’t see — it can still happen.
You took PEP afterward
If you started it in the first 72 hours after the experience and continued to take it as directed, your chances of contracting HIV are slim.
How likely is this generally?
Even just the tip can expose you to HIV. It may not be as risky as, say, full-on anal or vaginal penetration with ejaculation, but it’s still risky.
Opt for oral for lower risk pleasure or use a condom.
If you’ve potentially already been exposed, then taking PEP is the only way to reduce your risk from that exposure.
PEP — or post-exposure prophylaxis — is an emergency prescription for people who are HIV-negative who may have been exposed to HIV.
It’s a 28-day course of anti-HIV medication that can reduce the risk of contracting HIV by as much as
You can get the medication at your nearest clinic or emergency department.
Yes, but keep in mind that not everyone shows symptoms in the early stages of an HIV infection. The only way to know for sure if you contracted HIV is to get tested.
In the first two to four weeks after infection, two-thirds of people experience flu-like symptoms.
See your doctor if you experience any of the following after a possible exposure:
- sore throat
- muscle aches
- night sweats
- swollen lymph nodes
Different types of tests have different window periods. That’s the time between exposure to HIV and when it can be detected by a specific test.
The window periods range from about 10 days to 3 months.
Keep in mind that viral load is high in the early stages of infection, and it’s possible to transmit the virus during this period.
Until you get the all-clear and the window period’s passed, you’ll want to avoid another potential exposure. This means avoiding sexual activity or sticking with lower risk activities, like masturbation, kissing, or rimming.
If you decide to partake in play that’s lower or higher risk, use barrier protection and let potential partners know the sitch beforehand.
If there’s a chance you’ve been exposed to HIV, a convo with your other current or potential partners is a must until you get your results.
To help make the talk a little easier:
- Pick a time and place that you can talk freely without interruptions.
- Keep it simple and to the point.
- Share what you’re doing about it, like taking medication and testing regularly.
- Be prepared with information and resources that can help answer their questions about their risk level and options for prevention.
- Be ready for the possibility that they may not take it well, and try not to take their reaction personally.
There’s a lot you and your partner(s) can do to reduce the risk of HIV transmission.
Use condoms and other barrier methods
If there’s any chance you’ll be putting the tip into any orifice, putting a condom on it significantly reduces the risk of HIV and other infections.
Adding lube to the mix can help, too, and is especially important during anal sex.
Lube helps with dryness and friction and reduces the risk of tears that can allow the virus to enter the bloodstream. It also lowers the chances of the condom breaking.
Stay on top of medications, including ART, PrEP, and PEP
We’ve come a long way in HIV treatment and prevention, and some drugs can help you reduce the risk of transmission if you’re living with HIV or are having sex with someone who is.
Talk with a medical professional about:
- ART: Antiretroviral therapy (ART) helps a person living with HIV stay healthy by lowering the viral load. Most people who take it as prescribed can lower their viral load to an undetectable level, so they can’t transmit the virus to others.
- PrEP: A person who’s HIV-negative significantly reduces their risk of contracting HIV by taking PrEP consistently.
- PEP: In the event of potential exposure to HIV, PEP is available for emergency use. It can help prevent HIV infection if started within 72 hours of exposure.
Get regularly tested for STIs
Having another STI makes it easier to transmit and contract HIV, so regular STI testing is a must.
Regular testing helps with early prevention and treatment, reducing the risk of spread and complications.
Be aware of potential symptoms
If you have sex, knowing what symptoms could indicate an STI is a must.
See a healthcare professional if you notice any of the following:
- unusual discharge from the anus, penis, or vagina
- changes in urination, like pain or burning, frequency, or urgency
- sores, warts, or blisters on or around your genitals or anus
- unusual vaginal bleeding, like after sexual activity or between periods
- genital itching
Are certain activities higher risk?
Penis-in-anus sex is the riskiest, especially for the receptive partner (“bottom”) because the rectum’s lining is thin, making it easier for the virus to enter the bloodstream.
Penis-in-vagina sex, though not as risky, is also considered higher risk activity for both parties.
It’s possible but unlikely.
There are two main types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. Around 95 percent of all infections are HIV-1.
Perinatal transmission’s possible but can be prevented with medication.
The risk of transmission can be reduced to less than
Blood-to-blood contact between people sharing drug equipment like needles and syringes is the most common nonsexual form of HIV transmission.
If you’re injecting drugs — recreational or medical — always use clean equipment. Dispose of needles and other paraphernalia properly to avoid accidental needle sticks and exposure.
Though the risk is low, it’s possible to contract HIV from contaminated tattooing and piercing equipment. Avoid home tattoos and piercings and stick with a reputable studio that follows proper sterilization practices.
Potential exposure to HIV can be stressful for all involved. Finding someone to talk with about your concerns and getting support can help.
Talk with your doctor or another healthcare professional if you or your partner needs help with:
- HIV and other STI testing
- treatment and prevention drugs
- unusual symptoms
- referral to counseling or a mental health professional
- referral to a family planning clinic with experience in HIV
Just putting the tip in might seem like NBD, but the tip’s all you need to transmit HIV if you do it without barrier protection or taking HIV meds.
If you experienced potential exposure, visit the nearest clinic or ER as soon as possible and ask for PEP.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.