[Question #4749] HIV risk from rented ice skates

25 months ago
Doctors: 

I'm glad to know the two of you are still answering questions! 

Even though I am otherwise rational and educated, I have a strong fear of HIV. My fears are usually manageable, but infrequently take over my imagination. 

I enjoy skating and recently went to a rink without my skates. I rented a pair and skated for several hours. After removing the skates, I felt an abrasion/blister on my ankle with detached skin and saw dried blood near a toenail. The wounds (in two places) were obviously superficial but I am concerned that they rubbed against the skate (which is likely what caused them in the first place). I had very thick wool socks on and did not bleed through the sock.

I am no doubt the first person who's had foot issues in ice skates, so there probably are trace amounts of dried blood in many skates, but I also know that no one has ever contacted HIV through rented skates or bowling shoes. I guess I'm just looking for a rational assessment of my risk.  The skates frequently turn over, so it's possible that a person had been wearing them a few minutes before I rented them. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
25 months ago
Welcome to the Forum and thanks for your confidence in our services.  I think you have already answered your own question and concern.  The only health problem you are likely to experience from using a pair of rental ice skates is athlete's foot and as you point out, since you were wearing your own socks, that risk if close to zero as well.  Pease remember that HIV is rare and hard to transmit, even through direct sexual contact in which over 99.9% of exposures to persons known to be infected do not lead to transmission of infection.  There is simply no realistic reason for concern about HIV acquisition from casual personal contact (hugging, shaking hands, etc.) or environmental contacts(i.e. door knobs, toilet seats, or even rental ice skates) even when superficial scrapes and abrasions are involved.  

Please do not worry. there is no reason for concern and no reason for testing related to the events you describe.  Please do not let these sorts of thoughts keep you off your skates.  EWH
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25 months ago
Thank you, Dr. Hook. I'm grateful for your expertise and the time you take to answer questions. Since this specific question hadn't been asked, I do hope others can learn from it. Happy New Year! 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
25 months ago
Thanks for your thanks.  I'm glad my comments were helpful to you.  HNY to you as well.  EWH---