[Question #4518] HIV from Blood Tainted Towel

29 months ago
Dear Doctor - Thanks for taking my question

I was in a Hotel and had requested for a towel. I used the towel to dry myselves after a bath. I cannot see without glasses and after drying myselves I wore my glasses and I saw that there were stains on the towel. While some stains were dry, there was 1 Fresh blood stain. 

There were 3-4 dry stains that were of the size of a US Quarter coin or a little bigger. Similarly, the fresh blood stain was also of similar size. 

I am worried that by mistake they gave a used towel from next door or something that they had just collected to clean. Another worry, especially from the fresh blood is that - what if the hotel Employee that handed me the towel had some cuts and fresh blood went on the towel and I used it less than 5 minutes.

When I dried, i had to use it all on body parts - eyes, nose, ear, mouth, tip of penis /Urethra, anus, etc

These are the questions I have:

1. Is there any  risk at all of HIV / STD's from this as I had used it on all my body parts?
2. I am more worried about the fresh blood. How much quantity of blood is required for a meaningful risk? Will just a drop do (or) you need much more quantity than what is seen on the towel?
3. Will general washing kill anything on the towel?
4. In Addition, many a times I face water splash in public restrooms. Sometimes, it is directly on to the tip of the penis from the commode. Is there any risk in this? I assume not as the water will neutralize 

Thanks much for your time and help in this regard.


Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
29 months ago
Welcome to our Forum.  I will be glad to comment and to provide you with reassurance that the events that you describe did not put you at risk for HIV.  We receive many questions regarding exposure to potentially infected blood or secretions on towels, bed sheets, toilet seats, etc. and am happy to report that there have never been a case of HIV proven to be acquired in this way.  The virus is fragile and dies quickly on exposure to the environment and would "stick" to the fibers on a towel or other material. Thus, even if what you saw was fresh blood and even if the person that the blood came from was infected with HIV (unlikely), there would be no risk and no need for infection.

1. Is there any  risk at all of HIV / STD's from this as I had used it on all my body parts?
No, no risk at all. See above.

2. I am more worried about the fresh blood. How much quantity of blood is required for a meaningful risk? Will just a drop do (or) you need much more quantity than what is seen on the towel?
The amount of blood would make no difference.  This was a no risk event.

3. Will general washing kill anything on the towel?
Yes.

4. In Addition, many a times I face water splash in public restrooms. Sometimes, it is directly on to the tip of the penis from the commode. Is there any risk in this? I assume not as the water will neutralize 
HIV would die if it were placed in water.  Again, no one has ever become infected in this way.  You will not be the first.  

I hope my comments are helpful.  Nothing you have described suggests any risk for HIV nor is there any need for HIV testing related to what you have described.  EWH

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29 months ago
Sir - Thanks for your responses. Some more questions for my clarification please

1. The fresh blood was visible and was at the edge of the threads in the towel. Will it not easily latch on to me? I  did not understand the comment on virus sticking to towel fiber and hence this question. Even if this fresh blood was on my penis tip or Urethra, I can still take it as no risk? I am not able to follow science behind this and hence the question 

2. Can someone carry blood in a vial or bottle and if they splash it on towels, will it be infectious? Sorry for this question, but it crossed my mind and hence clarifying. 

Can I move on from this incident and assume this is absolutely no risk. Thanks again for all your help on this 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
29 months ago
You are being paranoid.  As I told you earlier, there are NO proven cases in which a person got HIV from the sort of exposure you describe.  Further it appears that your mind is changing its perceptions, such that although you originally said "3-4 dry stains that were of the size of a US Quarter coin or a little bigger. Similarly, the fresh blood stain was also of similar size", you now state that the spots you saw were on the edge of the towel.   My overall assessment is unchanged. Thus:
 
1. The fresh blood was visible and was at the edge of the threads in the towel. Will it not easily latch on to me? I  did not understand the comment on virus sticking to towel fiber and hence this question. Even if this fresh blood was on my penis tip or Urethra, I can still take it as no risk? I am not able to follow science behind this and hence the question.

See above.  My assessment is unchanged.  Even when person's skin comes in to direct contact with blood from a person with HIV (let me remind you, you do not know that you were in contact with blood, much less blood from a person with HIV) there are no instances where a person has acquired HIV.   

2. Can someone carry blood in a vial or bottle and if they splash it on towels, will it be infectious? Sorry for this question, but it crossed my mind and hence clarifying.

This too is paranoid thinking,  Such exposure would not lead to infection.

Please get a grip on yourself.  Try not to worry.  EWH

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29 months ago
Thanks for clarification. I am not changing what I said - All I am saying is that on the quarter sized area in fresh stain, it was on the edge of thread / fiber within that area in that towel. That is all. I am assuming that this does not change your assessment. 

Are eyes., Urethra etc. Considered skin? In your comment, you have mentioned it as contact with skin and hence clarifying. 

Thanks again
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
29 months ago
Sigh, you cannot stop this totally unnecessary worrying and "what if" questions, can you.  No change in my assessment.

The urethra and eyes are epithelial surfaces.  Different mucosal epithelium such as the penile urethra or perhaps the conjunctival surface of the eye are sites which are more vulnerable to infection by HIV than surface epithelium (skin).  Such surfaces are not potential sites of infection in the situation you describe.  EWH
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28 months ago
Sir - sorry for bothering you again. Today is 2 weeks after this incident. I have been very tired for the past 1 week. Also, I had headaches on multiple days including today and hence took a tynelol. Additionally, my stomach is mildly upset and I am clearing Bowels 3 to 4 times a day for the past 4 days. My feet felt very cold today and have never felt that way before.

1. Do I need to be worried about these symptoms? Do they sound like ARS? I am a bit concerned 

2. In case, I would like to test. What would be a good time frame? 4 or 6 weeks for the duo.  I see conflicting information. 

Thanks for your help in this regard. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
28 months ago
 It was my error not to close this thread after responding three times. Our forum permits only three responses to each client per question. As a result this thread will be closed immediately after this response is posted. 

 You are still being unnecessarily paranoid. The events you described were no risk. Thus:

1.  No.   Without fever, muscle aches and sore throat these are not symptoms of the ARS even if you had been at risk. 
2.   Testing is a personal decision. A fourth generation test would be 99% conclusive at four weeks and entirely conclusive at six weeks if you choose to test. 

 As I have said before you are worrying needlessly. EWH
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