[Question #4798] Worried

25 months ago
I am also worried about stds and  hiv. I am not a drug user and have been in the same relationship for a very long time. My questions are the following:

What if there is blood on my finger when inserting a tampon. I did have drops of blood on my shoe (I am thinking  it was from me and my period when I stood up), wiped it off, washed the blood my hands then inserted a tampon a couple min after.  I have also had to retrieve a tampon when the string was caught, and I nervous I picked up something from the public bathroom before doing so.  

I have been out in the community and seen needles on the ground. I'm worried I wouldn't realize stepping on one.

Thank you. 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
25 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.

I'm not sure I understand. If you have HIV, you cannot reinfect yourself with your own blood. And of course contact with blood not infected with HIV cannot transmit the virus. So contact with your own blood, when inserting a tampon during menstruation or any other kind of contact, of course is no risk for HIV or any other disease. (But perhaps I don't understand exactly what you are asking.)

Nobody ever gets HIV by contact with a contaminated environment. Whether your tampon, tampon string, fingers, etc had contact with oilets, commnities, needles in the environment, etc, etc makes no difference. If you are not actually stuck with a needle recently used by an infected person, that's no risk:  nobody in the world has ever caught HIV from stepping on a used needle. And if that happened, you would have noticed. And nobody ever catches HIV from using a public restroom.

To avoid HIV, do not have unprotected sex with anyone likely to be infected, such as new or casual sex partners; and do not inject drugs using needles others have used. That's all. Follow these rules and you are not at risk and will never catch HIV.

I hope this information is helpful. Let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD
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25 months ago
Thank you for the quick answer.  Just to clarify, I was talking about having someone else's blood possibly being on my hands.  Does it matter how much or how long a fluid has been on a surface? Or is it any fluid outside the body immediately becomes noninfectious? I have not had the other risks you mentioned: sharing needles or new or casual sex partners.  
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
25 months ago
In theory, HIV could remain infectious if blood or other body fluids have not dried out. But this simply doesn't matter.  I stress again that in the 40 years of the known worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic, with millions of people infected and undoubtedly billions of events in which people must have come into contact with HIV infected blood or body flouids in toilets or elsewhere. And not a single known case of HIV being caught in that fashion. So this is defintely not something you need to worry about now or any time in the future. Even if you had a room mate with HIV and used the same bathroom, toilet, kitchen for 10 years, you would not be at risk. Nobody ever gets HIV without having direct intimate contact. Period. If you come into contact with visible blood, obviously it is basic common sense to wash your hands. But even without that, the chance of infection would be zero or close to it.

OK? Got it?
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25 months ago
I know this is my last reply. I understand I am not at risk from any sort of body fluid outside the body, and that I'm only at risk if through unprotected sex and needle sharing. Just for the future, is water enough the deactivate hiv or other diseases? Or is soap or alcohol needed. (I may have answered my own question.)

Thnkas again and I appreciate your time and quick answers. Have a greatday.  
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
25 months ago
Water alone probably doesn't kill HIV. But for the reasons discussed, it really doesn't matter. The basic point is that it takes massive exposure to HIV in order for infection to take hold. That's why it's hard to transmit even with sex. (If you have unprotected sex with an infected male partner, with deposit of HIV-loaded semen deep in the vagina, there is only 1 chance in a thousand you would catch HIV. That's why many spouses of HIV infected persons never catch it, which perhaps you did not know. If it's that low with one of the highest risk exposures, what could it be with minor exposure to small amounts of virus?) So even though water may not inactivate HIV, it is still true that simply wiping away contaminated blood or fluids, or a water rinse without soap or alcohol, is highly protective. These are the reasons that there are no known cases of HIV from exposure other than sex, injection, etc. Of course soap or alcohol gel (e.g. Purel) is always recommended after any sort of potential contamination, these recommendations are more important in preventing common colds and intestinal infections than HIV.

So really, catching HIV isn't something to be worried about from use of public toilets, sharing households with infected persons, or being served in restaurants or at cash registers by persons who might have HIV. You needn't give this another thought.

Thanks for the thanks. I hope the discussion has been helpful.
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