[Question #2985] Towel in a hotel

41 months ago
Dear doctors

I am currently staying  in a hotel. Towels in my room were changed. They were folded and not used until I took a shower , so after a shower I unfolded one of them 4 hours after they were put into my room and used it on my face (including eye area, of course). I noticed some bright red dots on the towels (2 spots, a mm each). Small, but bright , bright red. I checked my face, there were no cuts etc, so it was not mine. Thus..what do you think my risk of getting HIV since the towel was folded , so I am not sure if there was much oxygen hitting that spot with red dots. I cannot be sure it was blood, of course, but if it were, then using the towel 4 hours later it was put in my room (folded, not sure about how much oxygen there were inside of the folded part of the towel) and using on my area be a risk of transmission? should I test based on this? I tested couple of weeks ago and was negative. No other risky exposures in a meantime at all . Thank you. You are wonderful. 
41 months ago
Just wanted to add that I used the towel to dry my eyes and have some spots on my skin. Eyes and sport could contacted the red spots on the towel. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
41 months ago
Welcome to the Forum.  I am completely confident that the dots that you were exposed to on your towel did not pose a risk for HIV or any other STI.  There is a long list of reasons I say this with confidence.  I will list some of them below and suggest that you consider them, not one-by-one but in their entirety.  These reasons include:

1.  The material on the towel may not be blood.  If it were, after 4 hours blood would no longer be bright red in appearance but brown.
2.  HIV is a rare infection.  Even if it were blood, statistically, the person it came form is unlikely to have had HIV. 
3.  After 4 hours, were it HIV, the HIV would have been non-viable and could no cause infection.
4.  When HIV infected material comes into contact with fibers on material (such as the towel fibers) the virus sticks to the fibers and cannot be transferred to others.
5.  There has never been a case of HIV proven to have been transferred through transfer of infectious material on an inanimate object such as a towel

For all of these reason, I urge you not to worry about this exposure to whatever was on the towel.  There is no reason for concern and no reason for testing. 

I hope you find my comments helpful.  EWH