[Question #1976] HIV and environment

48 months ago

Hello,

 

I’m concerned about something that happened yesterday and if I need PEP.

 

My hand has a rash with sores that ooze every so often. My hand came into contact with someone’s hand. That person told me earlier that day that their hand was dry, cracked, and sometimes bleeds from the weather. My hand bumped into their hand and I’m concerned whether they had blood on their hand and it touched one of my small sores, what the risk of HIV would be from that brief contact. I washed my hands as soon as I could but it was about fifteen minutes later.  I also asked to see their hands, and didn’t see any blood but they had just washed their hands in the bathroom. Their hand was not covered in blood or anything, I just don’t know based on their story if it was. Would you be able to advise the risk of HIV from this and if I need PEP? I am not sure if the bumps on my hand would be considered open wounds; they are small and sometimes ooze and if they’re open, just have a little hole at the top of them. I’m not sure what the small amount of liquid that comes out of them is. I try my best to baby those spots and worry each time they touch anything from doors to even my other hand because I am afraid surfaces or things I touch may have HIV on them. 

 

Please advise if PEP is needed. Any advice regarding the amount of blood necessary or how large a wound needs to be for it to be infected. Also, if there are any risks from doorknobs, faucets, or the other hand even touching these small sores?

 

Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
48 months ago
Welcome to the Forum.  I'll try to help.  This is not an event which required PEP.  You do not say that the person you were in contact with was known to have HIV and thus, unless this information was left out of your question, statistically it is most unlikely that this person had HIV.  Secondly the sort of casual contact that you describe has never been associated with the acquisition of HIV.  These sorts of open sores have never been associated with transmission of HIV, even is settings such as busy HIV Clinics or emergency

Similarly,there is absolutely no risk from contact with inanimate objects, including doorknobs, toilet seats, counter tops which have been contaminated with blood or other bodily secretions from an infected person.  This fact has been clearly stated by the U.S. CDC and the World Health Association. While there are many reasons for this but part of the reason is that the HIV virus is fragile and becomes non-infectious upon drying or exposure to the environment.  For all practical purposes, HIV is ONLY transmitted through penetrative sexual contact or injection of infectious material deep into tissue with a hollow needle or similar device. 

I hope this comment is helpful to you.  There is no need for PEP related to the event you have described.  EWH
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48 months ago
How large of a sore or cut would it need to be in order for it to be a risk of transmitting HIV? if the small oozing bumps are no risk, would a Mosquito bite with a small bloody spot be large enough?  Or would the wound need to be much larger? Additionally, I am finding different information regarding how long HIV can remain infectious outside of the human body. Does it die immediately upon exposure to air? Is there anyway HIV can survive on hands that you use to scratch in cuts or sores?
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
48 months ago
The size of such lesions is not a concern.  HIV is transmitted from person to person only through direct sexual contact or injection of infected material deep into tissue. Direct contact with lesions, particularly on the hands, does not introduce infectious material deep into tissue to cause infection.  It has been proven that insect bites including from mosquitoes are not risk factors for HIV.

HIV is not transferred from person to person on the hands or on inanimate objects. It is in part for this reason that all experts agree that mutual masturbation, in which both persons typically get each others' genital secretions on one another is not a risk for HIV.  HIV does quickly become non-infectious on exposure to air and temperatures below body temperature - this in part is the reason that casual contact with HIV is not a means of infection.  I am not aware of any cases in which HIV has been transmitted from person to person through transfer on one person's hands to another person, no matter what part of the body the hands are in contact with. EWH
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48 months ago

Yesterday, I dropped my keys and when I picked them up there was a band-aid stuck on them, which I didn't notice till a bit later. Assuming blood was on the band-aid, could this be a risk of HIV? 

 Today I scratched my nose and noticed it was bleeding. Could my unwashed hands have had HIV on them to transmit to my nose as it is mucus membrane?  I took a shower and touched the inside of my nose again and it was covered in blood, is this a risk?  If I was around other people and/or answering their phones, could I contract anything because of the nose bleed?

Could using someone else’s pen, pose any risk if it made contact with my hand sores? 

Today I noticed a speck of blood on my hand and I am not sure where it came from, could it have transmitted HIV through the sores on my hand? 

 Later I noticed fresh blood on my shirt. It's most likely from my nosebleed but I am not sure, could blood on my shirt transmit if it touched any open part of me.

 Lastly, today someone sat on my id card for work.  Is there a way after picking it up, HIV could have been transmitted through their clothes and then the sores on my hand?  

There is a red spot on my shower wall that has been there for months that I can't get off.  It its blood, is there a way something so old could still transmit? Could someone washing their hands in the bathroom, very close to me, transmit anything to the sores on my hands?  

 I worry anytime my hands touch almost anything or any of these scenarios. 

Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
48 months ago
As you know, this will be my final reply as part of this question and answer thread.  As per our Forum guidelines which permit up to three responses to a given question, this thread will be closed later today.

As I said in my original reply, there is absolutely no risk from contact with inanimate objects, including doorknobs, toilet seats, counter tops which have been contaminated with blood or other bodily secretions from an infected person.  HIV is only transmitted by DIRECT (not indirect) sexual contact or injection of infected material deep into tissue such as is done with a needle.  None of the scenarios you mention would put you at  risk for HIV.  Several of them seem to involve contact with your own blood- logically, you cannot give yourself HIV.   Further, touching a band aid on the ground (you must not have been paying any attention) has never been reported as an HIV risk.  Nor has eliciting blood while picking your nose or contacting infected materials while cleaning a bathroom or other palace that might be contaminated with infected secretions. 

None of the scenarios you describe represent realistic risks for HIV and there is no reason for concern or HIV testing related to the scenarios you describe.  I hope these comments are helpful to you.  This will end this thread.  EWH
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