[Question #2113] HIV / STD transmission

45 months ago



I had an issue that occurred yesterday that has me very concerned. I was speaking to someone that is HIV positive. They were very close to me and as they were talking to me, I felt a small amount of saliva land on my lip. My mouth was also open from having just finished speaking. In addition, my lips were very chapped, and peeling in large amounts from dehydration. Hence, I am concerned that due to the state that they were in, HIV could have been transmitted. Would a small amount of spit coming from someone who is talking be able to transmit HIV? What if there was any blood in the spit? Could you please advise if PEP would be needed for a situation like this?


Secondly, I have a bad hangnail on one hand that people bumped into at work. I don't believe that this sort of casual contact would be able to transmit HIV, but I wanted to double check whether either this, or contact with objects other people had just touched, would be able to transmit HIV.  Related to this would drinking from a plastic bottle with something on it, or washing hands from a dirty or not so clean faucet, pose a risk?


Thank you for your time


Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
45 months ago
Both of the situations are no risk.  The are  no instances of HIV being transmitted in saliva or spit and ingestion of small amounts of HIV clearly do not transmit ingestion (even if blood were n the saliva).  Similarly, the wound represented by a hangnail, while theoretically representing a potential portal of entrance for HIV, have never been associated with HIV despite the enumerable persons who have inserted their fingers into HIV infected partners during mutual masturbation which is safe sex and has never been associated with risk for HIV.  Clearly casual contact such as an HIV infected person bumping into your hangnail would not put you at risk for HIV. There is no reason for concern here and no reason for testing.  Similarly, drinking from a glass or bottle after an HIV infected person or washing you hands in a sink after a person with HIV has used the sink is a no risk event. 

For all practical purposes, the only meaningful risk factors for HIV are unprotected penetrative sexual encounters or injection of infected material deep into tissue in the way that a contaminated needle would  I hope these responses are helpful to you.  EWH
45 months ago

Hello Dr. Hook. Thank you for taking time to answer my questions.  I have  more concerns.

 Yesterday, while walking back to work, something blew in my mouth, and don’t know what it was.  Could that be a risk of HIV or other disease?

  Would saliva that was spat in my direction have any effect or pose any risk with my chapped and peeling lips?  

 Today I used a toilet that I didn’t really want to sit on. I attempted to stand slightly above it and my urine bounced off of the toilet back onto my penis. Would this be a risk of HIV from the toilet?

 Would it be a risk to eat with non washed hands that touched doors or door handles?

Would someone handing an object to you be a risk if they had anything on their hands, which got on the object they handed to you, if you had any cuts or sores on your hand?

 Yesterday, during dinner, I noticed something strange in the food and was unable to determine what it was. It was about an inch long or so. In a worst case scenario, could HIV survive in a jar of tomato sauce, or would it die when cooked?

 Could a person scratching sores near your get anything into the air that would be able to transmit HIV?

 I had to use somebody’s calculator yesterday and noticed there was something wet on it, could it possibly be a risk?

 Finally, I washed a soap container that I put my shower soap in.  I placed it on a bag from the store to dry without thinking. Could anything that was on the bag had gotten onto the container and contained the soap I use in the shower?


Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
45 months ago
Your follow-up questions suggest a misunderstanding in how HIV is transmitted.  You are not alone.  many people have unwarranted concerns about HIV, how it is transmitted and the efficient of transmission.  To start with, with the possible exception of laboratory accidents where HIV is being studied, the only meaningful risk factors for HIV are unprotected penetrative sexual encounters or injection of infected material deep into tissue in the way that a contaminated needle would.  Even with such exposures, most exposure to infection does not lead to infection- for instance, the risk for acquiring infection through unprotected penile-vaginal intercourse between an infected and uninfected person is less than 1 infection per every more than 2000 exposures (i.e. having sex with an infected person once a day every day for about 5 and 1/2 years).  Other sorts of infection are even less infectious.  HIV is NOT acquired as the result of casual contact such as touching a surface contaminated with HIV containing blood or secretions (like sitting on a dirty toilet seat or using a phone or calculator which was used by someone with HIV), nor is it transmitted in saliva or spit such as if someone coughs in your direction or spits at you.    Thus NONE of the situations you list above place you at ANY risk for HIV.  EWH
45 months ago

Thank you for addressing my concerns.

  First, I drank about 75% of a plastic water bottle when I saw a red substance a bit smaller then a pea in the bottle. Worst case scenario, if it was blood, could HIV survive in a plastic bottle of water?


 Yesterday, I bumped my arm and cut it. I put a new band aid on it which came from a very old box from somebody else. After having it on, I peeled it off, and saw hair and some discharge.  The discharge was likely from my wound but if it wasn't could anything have survived on the band aid from a long time ago? Or whatever the hair/ fuzz were on it.

  Today, I bumped into a coworker who has Hiv.  Is there a risk from this sort of contact? I don’t know if they had cuts or anything but I was in a long sleeve shirt and pants.                

 I cut my finger with a staple from paperwork from a jail.  Is there any risk?

Someone at work was scratching a large sore two feet from me; can this have gotten into the air, a cut or my mouth to transmit?

   I saw a small bit of red substance on my fingers. I don’t see a cut so it's not my blood. Is this a risk since my hands are cracked and dry and have a few sores? 

 I was using a scanner and there was some dead skin on it which blew into my mouth.  Is this a risk?

  Generally, how long can HIV live outside the body? 

Lastly I had an open wound on my finger, touched a remote, and key someone else had just touched, is there any risk if they got any blood on it that it could infect my wound with HIV?


Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
45 months ago
This series of follow-up questions appears to show and unwarranted and inappropriate fear of HIV which fails to incorporate how HIV is transmitted or any of the information that I have provided above.  Brief replies, then this thread will be complete.

I really can't image that what you saw was blood.  It would need to be a blood clot as blood itself would color the water.  Even if blood, this sort of exposure would not put you at meaningful risk for HIV or other infections. 

HIV would not have survived on the band aid in the situation you describe in the implausible situation that it was contaminated.

HIV is NOT transmitted by casual contact including "bumping", shaking hands or hugging.

Someone scratching a sore nearby you does not put you at risk for infection in the unlikely event that they have HIV.

That your hand has cracks and is dry does not put you at risk for HIV.

Dry skin "blowing into your mouth" is NOT a means by which HIV is transmitted.

HIV becomes non-infectious almost immediately on exposure to the environment/air.

This completes this thread.  Please note that the forum does not permit repeated anxiety driven questions by the same users. This will have to be your last one; future new questions on this topic will be deleted without reply and without refund of your posting fee. This policy is based on compassion, not criticism, and is designed to reduce temptations to keep paying for questions with obvious answers; because experience shows that continued answers tends to simply prolong such anxieties, when the real answer normally should be professional counseling; and because such questions have little educational value for other users, one of the forum's main purposes. I trust you will understand.  EWH