[Question #1398] HiV from blood dripped on cold food

48 months ago

I was at a business meeting and for dessert I had a key lime pie. After finishing it a saw something red on one of the limes that garnished it. It looked like 2 drops of blood, however one piece had substance and I could move it with a straw. At first I was worried because I have a strawberry allergy; the waiter assured me at was a marrichino cherry. I took a picture of it and showed the manager the picture she also said it was a cherry and all the food handlers wear gloves.

Then I thought what if it was blood.

1. If the lime cutter cut his finger and it bleed on the pie is there a risk, it might have been less then a minute until I ate it, I don't know.

2. Would the virus be dead or unable to infect that fast (under a minute).

3. Could hiv be passed to the surface of a food product and then to me or does it have to be directly person to person?


4. I have receding gums that sometimes bleed as well as occasional mouth sores would this give the virus a vector to enter my blood stream.

5. I just got tested three weeks ago; I don't want to go through it again I am terrified of a false positive.

6. Would this risk be the same as receptive oral sex (1 in 10,000 then a 1 in 1,000 chance the food preparer had HIV)?

I have a wife and five kids I am so scared that I might put them at risk; please help      

Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
48 months ago

My goodness, my sense is that you are greatly over reacting to your situation.  Desserts are often garnished with red fruit compositions.  The probability that what you saw was blood was close to zero.  Further, had it been blood the probability that it was form a person with HIV was likewise very, very low.  Even if it was HIV infected blood, however the exposure would still be zero risk for HIV.  Brief answers to your questions follow:

1. If the lime cutter cut his finger and it bleed on the pie is there a risk, it might have been less then a minute until I ate it, I don't know.

No, no risk from either touching or swallowing HIV infected blood. 

2. Would the virus be dead or unable to infect that fast (under a minute).

Yes, the blood would be almost certainly non-infectious.

3. Could hiv be passed to the surface of a food product and then to me or does it have to be directly person to person?

Transmission of HIV is through direct, person to person contact or injection of infected material deep into tissue


4. I have receding gums that sometimes bleed as well as occasional mouth sores would this give the virus a vector to enter my blood stream.

No, gum disease is not a risk for HIV, even if directly exposed to HIV containing material

5. I just got tested three weeks ago; I don't want to go through it again I am terrified of a false positive.

Good, there is no medical reason for you to have HIV testing related to the events you describe. 

6. Would this risk be the same as receptive oral sex (1 in 10,000 then a 1 in 1,000 chance the food preparer had HIV)?

or lower

I hope these responses are helpful.  As I said above you are seriously over reacting to the events you describe.  I urge you to move forward without concern for HIV or any other blood borne infection.  EWH

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48 months ago
DOC, first off thank you, I have enormous respect for you you are an expert and I trust your opinion. Having you answer my question has really put my mind st ease.

1. I guess my issue was that there should have been no red garnish at all on this pie and you could tell it was out of place it was more pink then red.

2. I don't know why this is freaking me out. I am a veteran with PTSD and anxiety. But I have  been around copious amounts of blood in my career (I have deployed 3 times). I also am involved in wrestling and grappling and have been bleed on a lot; blood didn't start bothering me until last year 

3. My concern and fears revolve around protecting my wife and kids. I really don't care what happens to me I guess, my worry is for them.

4. The army tests us for HIV 2x a year while deployed and every 2 years in garrison. I have seen soldiers get false positives; that's what freaks my out about tests and I was just tested 3 weeks ago.

4. So no worries, I can continue to have sex with my wife and I have had absolutely no risk.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
48 months ago

No change in my assessment or advice:

1.  No change in my assessment. You do not know what this was, kitchens are full or red/pink things, and even in the incredibly unlikely event that what you saw was blood, even ingestion (swallow) of HIV infected blood would not cause infection.

2.  I cannot help with this.,  My suggestion would be to talk it through with a trained counselor,.  if you have PTST, I suspect you have one and if you do not, the service should provide one. 

3. This was a no risk event.  your wife and kids are not at risk.

4.  False positives do occur but are rare.  Further, there are good ways to distinguish false positives from true infection.

5.  Correct- zero worries.  Your wife and kids are not at risk.

Take care.  EWH

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48 months ago
One last follow up (since I get two)

First thanks again

1. I wanted to clarify that this event happened after my bi annual test. I was tested neg in October and the pie Incedent happened in November 

About 10 days after the incident I had 1 day of diarrhea it cleared up in a day then 14 days after the incident I got a bit sick with a moderately sore throat, post nasal drip and head pain; went to the Doc was put on prednisone and a z pack seemed to clear in about 12 hours of taking the medication so I was sick for 24 hours, I did not have a fever; my temp was 97.6 at the docs office; and was still able to bench press 405 that afternoon. 
I had another bout of diarrhea that night 

The next day my wife had the same thing. Sans diarrhea 

2. That doesn't sound like ARS or any thing I have to worry about.

3. Could the z pack or the prednisone cause the diarrhea 

 My wife has nothing to worry about

Thanks in advance 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
48 months ago

Straight to your questions, emphasizing once again that nothing I am about to say in any way changes my initial assessment and advice.

1.  the timing of your illness is almost certainly coincidence and nothing else.  The diarrhea you had, without other symptoms of the ARS does not in any way suggest this was the ARS.  On the other hand, that your wife had similar symptoms within 24 hours of yours suggests either the sort of food borne illness most people get from time to time or an every day, non-STI viral illness that you passed between the two of you. 

2.Corrent, see above.  this sounds nothing like ARS.

3. Azithromycin rather commonly causes GI side effects including diarrhea, prednisone would not.

4.  correct, there is no reason for you to worry, for you to worry about your wife, or for her to worry.


I hope these responses will let you move forward without concern.  As you know, this will complete this thread and it will be closed later today.  Take care.  EWH

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