[Question #6703] Food and bleeding gum

13 months ago
Hello Dr.,

Before I get into the details, I have to say that I have strong fear for HIV and it plays a role in my reactions to potential exposures.

Yesterday, I was having scallion pancakes that I bought from a Chinese store for dinner. The pancakes were frozen, so I cooked it for about 2 minutes at home. While I was eating it, my gum was accidentally slashed by my fork and started to bleed. I stopped eating and washed my mouth. After I saw the blood coming out, my mind just couldn’t ease.

I knew that food doesn’t transmit HIV even there is a small amount of HIV blood in it, but that was under the assumption of no active bleeding wound in mouth. I also searched about how long the virus can be killed by heat, but the papers that I found only stated boiling water takes 30 minutes to sterilize tools to kill HIV virus, which is way longer than my cooking time for the pancake. Rationally, I think the chance of contracting HIV in the event that I described is probably very low, but, in the worst case scenario, if there were some HIV fluid presented during the food-processing progress (such as blood accidentally dropped in the flour), I guess I might be at some risk. That’s why I want your analysis and assurance to help me overcome my overthinking of this event.

If we assume there are some HIV fluid presented during the pancake-making process:
1.How much risk are there in the event I describe?
2.How long does it take to kill the virus when temperature is over boiling point (I guess the pan was over 400F for only 2 minutes)?
3.Do I need PEP?
4.Are there any actions I should take regarding this incident?

Thank you.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
13 months ago
I'm sorry, but this is a repetative question. The answers were covered directly, or are obvious from the replies in your previous threads. You have correctly stated the underlying problem,  your irrational fear of HIV. And you also are of course correct in your "Rationally..." statement. The answers to your questions are 1) Zero. 2) Instantaneously. 3) Of course not. 4) No.

It seems clear you have HIV related germophobia -- and maybe other contamination fears? Perhaps OCD? These can be signs of looming and potentially very serious mental health disability. (See "The Aviator", the film biography of Howard Hughes for a good example of where it can lead.) (And it's a great movie, by the way.)

In any case, this forum cannot help you further. No matter what other scenarios come to mind about HIV risks other than sexual exposure or shared drug injection equipment, you can be sure our replies would be the same as those you have already had. In addition, repeated questions on the same topic or exposure are not permitted. This will have to be your last one; future new questions along these will be deleted without reply and without refund of the posting fee. 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. I trust you will understand.

Please seriously consider professional counseling, which I suggest from compassion, not criticism. Best wishes.