[Question #4697] Hiv and dirty hands.

27 months ago
Hello. I am 18, here we are again, but not me now, for my brother. I have showed him your previous answer, he still wanted me to ask, please.
Situation: I took my little brother (14) to a supermarket. We bought bread and some tuna spread paste (pate). He was very hungry, took the bread from the bag it came in, opened pate, and eat it all.Afterward, he noticed a red flick of something under nail. It was solid, moved around, but when he put a drop of water on that red spot-it dissolved. He started to freak out it was blood maybe (not his for sure) and it was on the bag or maybe on something else he touched. But he eat with that hand, so that thing may contaminated bread he was eating. I told him that blood would not be solid, even if it dissolved later, and it could be a spice or something, but he wont listen. If it WERE blood, would he be at risk of HIV/HEP C? He eat at the car after about 15 minutes we left the shop. I told him no way and even it were blood, then HIV would be dead in 15 minutes and would not infect it, even he ate it on bread (it transferred from fingernail to bread). But he needs to "hear" it from you.  Can you just tell him, please, if that is the case, that there is no need to worry and no need to test?

Thank you so much and sorry.  
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
27 months ago
Welcome back to the forum. But to be honest, I have to be skeptical about laying this on your younger brother. Apologies if I'm wrong, but 90% of the time when people ask questions supposedly on behalf of someone else, it's usually about themselves. And this has all the earmarks of the same anxieties about HIV that were evident in your previous question several months ago.

First, almost certainly the red pigment wasn't blood. But even if it were, there is no reason to suspect that it was from someone with a blood borne infection like HIV or viral hepatitis. Finally, even if that were also the case, swalliowng blood or exposure of blood or infected fluids to the mouth carries little if any risk. While I wouldn't recommend taking a swallow of a couple of ounces of HIV infected blood, if you did that, probably you would not be infected. In any case, the tiny amount in such a small spot of pigment would be no risk.

Here is all you (and your brother) need to know to protect yourself from HIV:  do not have unprotected sex with new partners or of unknown HIV status (this means insertive vaginal, anal, or oral sex only -- there is no risk from fingering, kissing, or hand-genital contact); and never share drug injection equipment with other persons. Beyond that, the risks are too rare to ever worry about. Follow these rules and you will NEVER catch HIV.

The corollary to that is that there is no point in asking any further questions along these lines on this forum. Without unprotected sex or shared drug equipment, the reply on this forum will always be "No risk, don't worry, no need for testing."

I hope these comments help. Please accept my apology if you really are asking about your brother -- and pass on my best wishes to both of you.