[Question #6142] Hookah/cigarettes/straws sharing

20 months ago
Good afternoon,

I regularly host get togethers at my house and frequently share my hookah with a bunch of my friends. Sometimes we have chapped lips, mouth sores, etc. Is there any risk for HIV transmission if a little amount of blood is passed on to the hookah tip and makes contact with my cracked/broken lip?

From reading previous replies, I get that there is no risk, just wanted to ask about this specific thing as this is a frequent thing I do and I would like to enjoy it without that thought popping up in my head.

Just to specify, obviously if I see a larger amont of blood on my friend's lip or on the hookah tip I would not share the hookah, but in case it is very little and not easily visible and makes direct contact with a damaged/cracked lip? Is there no risk because the amount of infectious blood is too little and because it is exposed to air?

Thank you so much for your time and consideration and please assume in this scenario that both my friend and myself have cracked lips and there is blood on the hookah tip that I would touch with my broken/cracked lip.





H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
20 months ago
Welcome back, but there was no need, assuming you read and understood your two recent threads with Dr. Hook. Part of his reply was "Please remember that HIV is transmitted ONLY the DIRECT sexual contact or injection of infected material DEEP into tissue.  Skin contact, surface contact of scrapes and wounds, touching material potentially contaminated by infected material does not." That directly addresses the questions asked here. He also wrote "the purpose of this Forum is not to address the many 'what if' questions which occur all too regularly for persons with OCD."

If you see visible blood on a person's lip, of course you would not proceed with any contact. *Duh* Therefore the question is irrelevant to HIV risk. But even then there would be little or no risk. Oral exposure to HIV almost never results in infection. People who give BJs to HIV infected men, swallowing semen, have an average risk of catching the virus of 1 in 10,000. That's equivalent to giving BJs to infected men once daily for 27 years before transmission might be likely, and even then, most men probably would not be infected. In addition, saliva does not transmit HIV; in fact, saliva kills HIV.

Cracked lips also make no known difference in HIV risk. 

So I'll just reemphasize Dr. Hook's words about OCD and "Yes but" or "what if" questions. There is no scenario that will enter your mind that would change the advice you have now had in three threads. 

As Dr. Hook said, the forum does not permit repeated questions on the same topic or exposure. This will have to be your last one; future new questions along these lines will receive no reply and the posting fee will not be refunded. This policy is based on compassion, not criticism, and is designed to reduce temptations to keep paying for questions with obvious answers. In addition, experience shows that continued answers tend to prolong users' anxieties rather than reducing them. Finally, such questions have little educational value for other users, one of the forum's main purposes. Thanks for your understanding. 
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