Strangest but Truest Posts of 2008 in’s “Ask the Experts” Forums

December 9, 2008
We’re nearly 30 years into the HIV pandemic, yet a shocking number of
people still appear not to know the first thing about HIV. We get to
see some of that ignorance firsthand in our "Ask the Experts" forums,
where we’re sometimes amazed at just how paranoid some folks are about
whether they’ve been exposed to HIV.

We scoured our "Ask the Experts" forums and nominated 10 posts we feel
are the "best of the worst" of 2008 (or the worst of the worst,
depending on how you look at it). They’re some of the oddest, most
nonsensical questions we’ve seen people ask about HIV this year.
Some are shocking, some are sad, many are hilarious — and they’re all
reminders of how far we still have to go to educate the world about

The Body  

So, it’s up to you: Which of the 10 finalists listed below (in no
particular order) represents the most bizarre post from our "Ask the
Experts" forums during the past year? Rate each of the nominees below
and click the "Submit" button on the bottom of the page. We’ll
announce the winner early in 2009!

Voting ends on Jan. 9, 2009. To vote go to:

Nominee #1: Worst. HIV Professor. Ever.
I am a new nursing student. My professor says that people with HIV or
hepatitis B must be placed in an isolation ward when they’re admitted
to a hospital. She also says that HIV can be caught by touching sheets
that are wet with an HIV-positive person’s urine. I’m having trouble
believing her, but could she really be correct?

Nominee #2: Attack of the Errant Toilet-Seat Pubic Hair
Before using a toilet in a public restroom, I noticed a pubic hair on
the seat. I used some toilet paper to try nudging it into the bowl,
but instead it fell the wrong way and landed on my foot — it actually
touched flesh, since I was wearing flip-flops at the time! Could I
have gotten HIV?

Nominee #3: Ziploc: It Keeps the Freshness In (And, Apparently, the HIV)
Two weeks ago, I masturbated using two Ziploc plastic bags. Now I have
a fever and my throat is sore. Did I give myself HIV?

Nominee #4: Why Women Don’t Like Laundromats: Reason #55
I found a used pair of panties at the laundromat. They were unwashed,
and there was a spot of dried vaginal secretion on them. Can I get any
sexually transmitted diseases from licking the spot or putting my
penis on the dried secretions?

Nominee #5: When I Went to a Dressing Room, Did I Try On HIV?
I went to the mall recently and tried on some clothes in a dressing
room. As I was trying different things on, I noticed there were a few
spots of dried snot on the wall. As I kept looking at the walls, I
noticed a dried spot of what looked like blood. I didn’t touch it.
However, after picking up my sweatshirt and putting it back on, I
noticed a few small, red spots (possibly blood) on the chair where I
had laid it. If those spots were blood, and they had HIV in them,
could they have rubbed off on my sweatshirt and then onto my face as I
put the sweatshirt on, thus putting me at risk for HIV?

Nominee #6: Is HIV Risk Afoot?
As I was walking through the mall, I stepped in a small pool of fresh
blood. If the blood was HIV positive and I tracked it into my home,
would my family be at risk for HIV? What if someone walked barefoot
near my bloody shoes, stood in the shower, dropped the soap on the
shower floor and then used the soap?

Nominee #7: Well, This Is Quite a Pickle I’ve Gotten Myself Into
Can I get HIV — or any virus, for that matter — by masturbating with
a pickle, a bottle or something similar?

Nominee #8: Waiter, There’s a Virus in My Soup
While eating at a restaurant recently, a small piece of my food fell
off my plate and onto the table. I picked it up and ate it. There was
no sign of blood on the table, but if someone with HIV had bled on it,
could I have become infected?

Nominee #9: Oh, You Want the HIV? That’s in Aisle Four
I used a shopping cart during a recent trip to the grocery store, and
also borrowed a pen while I was in the checkout line. Then, when I was
on my way out, I bit my lip so hard it started bleeding, and I touched
the open wound. If the shopping cart or the pen had HIV on it, could I
have become infected when I touched my bleeding lip?

Nominee #10: Just Another Day at the Watering Hole
I was in a lake the other day when I came across two men masturbating
each other underwater. I was 18 feet away, and at some point I noticed
that some semen had floated over and settled on my leg. I immediately
removed the semen with water and sand, but could I still have become
infected with HIV?


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