[Question #4751] hep/hiv

25 months ago
when washing hands at restaurant, noticed red boogar type substances in random spots on white porcelain sink. It made me extremely grossed out that someone would blow, what i perceived as bloody chunks on the sink. Trying to be preventative, thinking germs are everywhere, I used a paper towel to pump the soap and activate water handle (which was cold water and very low pressure) and washed trying not to bump my hands into sink anywhere at all. Used towel to dry, and open door, and leave. Didn't see any blood on my hands afterwards, but wasn't actively confirming either. I may have barehanded the water handle on the 2nd activation for the water don't stay on long. Not 100% sure...

Stupidly, started eating finger food for myself and handing my toddler food as well, and bamn, i instantly started wondering if i could have still been at risk for HCV, HIV, or any infectious disease if maybe my hand made contact in an area i wasn't aware of.  Now i'm doubting that also Maybe i didn't get a good enough clean. A week later i'm nauseated and worried... Maybe a certain part of my hand touched the sink after all, not sure...  The internet is unclear about food transmission of blood related pathogens. 

i am a germaphobe, but for the sake of my kid, want to know if there was any risk at all for anyone... Any diseases... I know this isn't an STD topic, but the diseases themselves are related....


Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
25 months ago
Welcome to our Forum.  I'll be glad to comment and hopefully, relieve your concerns. While whatever was present in the sink was distasteful, the events you describe did not put you or your child at risk for HIV, hepatitis or any other blood borne infection.  I say this with complete confidence.  As you read the multiple reasons that I say this, please do not worry about the various points on a one-by-one basis but take them as a whole.  Here goes:
1. Whatever you saw may not have been blood.
2.  If it was blood, it is statistically unlikely that it came from a person who had HIV, hepatitis, or other infections.
3.  Once outside of the body, the viruses (and bacteria) that might have been in blood rapidly become non-infectious.  Contact with soap, water, or both hastens this.
4.  Ingestion of HIV, hepatitis, etc. does not lead to infection- the viruses must enter deep into the body to access the blood stream, thus surface contamination is not a threat. 

I realize that when our children involves we want to take extra precautions but really, this was a no risk event. Please do not worry and believe me when I say there is no medical reason for concern or testing.  EWH 
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25 months ago
yes i understand. Three follow up questions, thank you for your patience in advance. 1) the mouth and esophagus are mucus membranes, wouldn't that make a blood vector virus HVC / HIV transmissible? 2) The CDC site and many other valid sites also state that HCV and HBV are longer lasting in the environment as opposed to HIV, especially a wet one, how would this relate to my concern?  Finally, 3) is this a case where if there is no smoke (blood) there is no potential fire (disease?) Just thinking that germs could fall off from elsewhere into my hands is a dumb thought to have

Yes, it was very gross...  I don't want to be OCD about it, but the image is etched into my mind and the thought i was anywhere near it and then touched food for me and my kid is very unpleasing...
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
25 months ago
1.  No, for two different reason.  Mucous membranes differ according to where they are in the body.  Genital mucosa is more vulnerable than oral mucosa.  Also, there is less friction to facilitate transmission in the mouth.  There has NEVER been a case of HIV acquired through ingestion of the virus.
2.  It's relative.  The CDC tends to be more conservative, talking about theoretical concerns.  Further there was soap and water, both of which are toxic to the viruses. Again, let's not debate point by point!.  
3.  This is the case as well.

This was a no risk, event, really!.  EWH
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25 months ago
 has there ever been a case of Hepatitis B,C transmission through ingestion that you know or read about?   Thanks for answering this along with all my other questions sir...
25 months ago
my main concern, and inability to find info about, was the ingestion of hep virus. I agree with you on the soap, i was just concerned if a section of my hand touched the sink during the process, it may not have been washed like the rest.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
25 months ago
This follow-up question is a bit repetitive.  I have already told you there are no data on transmission of HIV (and hepatitis B or C) from ingestion of contaminated food.  If I was aware of such a case, even one, I would have said so.  

As I provide this final result, let me also repeat, this was an unfortunate but no risk event.

this is my 3rd reply to your questions.  As per Forum guidelines, the thread will be closed shortly without further responses.  Take care.  Please don't worry.  EWH
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