[Question #6107] Hiv transmission sperm exposed to air

19 months ago
Hello! I suffer an anxiety disorder regarding hiv. So the following question seems pretty strange, but i hope you can answer it anyway.

Last night i sleept in a hotel.  I took a shower and afterwards i touched with my penis by accident the washbasin. Because of my fears reagarding hiv i looked closely at it and  recognized that there were stains at the washbasin. I panicked and rubbed the stain with my fingers to look if it was sperm.   Of course i couldn't say if it was sperm or not. I calmed down because the foreskin covered the mucous membrane of my penis so i thought that there is no risk of an hiv transmission but after that shock i forgot to wash my hands and fingers. About two hours later i rubbed my eyes and maybe touched other mucous membrane with my fingers. Now i am at fear that if the stains were sperm i could be infected with hiv.

Was there a "real" risk of hiv transmission at the first "accident" and afterwards by touching mucous membrane with my fingers? A few years ago everyone told that hiv is fragile and   if the virus comes into contact with air it dies quickly. But now i have read severals articles that state that the virus can stay active for severel days even exposed to air. I am very insecure and scared.

Thanks alot!

Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
19 months ago
Welcome back to our Forum. Your question is a variant of the question you asked me ten months ago.  For that reason, I will copy my earlier reply to you below, then provide a few more comments:

"While I am not completely sure of the circumstances under which this person's wet hands occurred, the likelihood that he had semen on his hands, as well as the likelihood that he had HIV is miniscule and not something to worry about.  Even if the material you contacted was semen and even if the person did have HIV, there would NO risk to you of acquiring HIV from it. This is true even if you then went on to touch your penis or wipe you eyes, still no risk.  As you note the HIV virus is very fragile and becomes non-infectious virtually immediately once outside the body.  As a reminder of just how no risk this event was, let me remind you that the CDC and WHO consider mutual masturbation in which sexual partners get each others genital secretions on one another as no risk events.  the situation you describe is even lower risk.  thus, there is no reason for concern and no reason for testing."

At that time you were worried that you might have contacted someone's hands which were contaminated with semen.  Your current question is an even lower risk situation, wondering if you could transfer semen that was present on an inanimate object to your hands and then to your eyes or other mucous membranes to cause infectious.  The answer is, that even if you happened to contact a semen-contaminated surface and then transfer whatever you contact to your eyes or other mucous membranes to cause infection there would be no risk for infection whatsoever.  There are no proven cases of anyone having become infected in this way.  Please don't worry.  

There is no reason for concern and no reason for testing related to the circumstances you have described.  I hope this information is helpful.  EWH