For HIV-positive men, is blood in semen cause for concern?
I’m a 31-year-old male who is HIV-positive, but otherwise healthy and not currently sexually active. Recently, I’ve noticed that when I masturbate, my semen is dark colored and has some blood in it. Is this a cause for concern?
Eric Christoff, MD, AAHIVM on September 26, 2011
I can understand why you’re concerned, and I’m glad you asked this question. Anytime you notice a major change in your body (like blood in your semen), it’s a good idea to go see your doctor. That said, here are some first thoughts for your consideration.
Bloody or dark semen is not a common symptom of HIV or AIDS, but it is cause for concern. In specific circumstances blood in the semen is normal ⎼ for example, after recent prostate biopsy surgery or a vasectomy. However, other cases of hematospermia (semen with blood in it) could indicate a serious condition. Blood in the semen could also indicate an STD infection like herpes, chlamydia or gonorrhea...or it may turn out to be harmless. The only way to know for sure is to get examined in person by your doctor.
Remember, some STDs can be spread by other activities besides intercourse (like skin-to-skin contact) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that being HIV-positive increases your risk of other infections, so testing may be a good idea.
Talk to your doctor about your symptom and about STD testing to find out if your hematospermia is normal, or a condition in need of treatment.
I hope I was able to offer you some insight, and I wish you the best in managing your HIV infection and keeping other infections at bay.
Dr. Christoff is a practicing physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. His areas of expertise include the treatment of HIV and syphilis along with other STDs, the medical treatment of depression and chronic fatigue, and the specific health needs of gay and lesbian patients. Dr. Christoff was educated at the University of Toledo, College of Medicine and completed his residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.