[Question #918] confusing

86 months ago

sir, i read and understood that hiv does not spread through door handles. while recently i i was reading a post from DR. BOB  , where he advised 1 man from australia get  tested for hiv because he rubbed / wiped his eyes with his  hands that touched semen contaminated door handle. sir this very much confusing

. i am posting  that that here i request you to pls. go through it and give me explanation


Dr. Bob

Eye contact with semen Jul 12, 2005

I live in Australia. I work in retail and as part of my duties I am required to check the fitting rooms (where people try on clothes) - while doing this recently I rested my hand on the handle on the inside of the door. I did not realise that it had semen on it until I wiped my eye (which was already irritated from recently having a cold) and my eye began to sting and then I noticed semen all over the back of the door. Thus, unwittingly my eye came into contact with a quantity of semen from an unknown person. This fact is beyond doubt. However, now I am very worried about getting HIV from this exposure to the semen or even Hep C. I am petrified. What should I do? What are my chances of getting HIV or HEP C? When can I reasonably get tested and know that the results are conclusive. Are my chances further increased by the fact that I already had an irritation in my eye? Could you please send an answer to my email address so that it may put my fear to rest as I am starting to feel very stressed about the situation.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Aussie,

Someone spunked the door of your fitting room? Hmmm . . . well, I guess since the airlines have shrunk the onboard bathrooms down to such a tiny size that horned-up hotties (or crazy Republicans see below) have resorted to fitting rooms for their sex in public places adventures.

OK, your risk is presumed spunk in the eye. Assuming the spunker was HIV positive, the estimated risk of acquiring HIV following a mucous membrane exposure is 0.09%. Please note that's direct mucous membrane exposure to HIV-positive spunk! Your estimated risk would be even lower, as we don't know the HIV status of your fitting room phantom.

Regarding hepatitis C, your risk is essentially nonexistent. Even with hepatitis C-infected blood, transmission via mucous membrane exposure is extremely rare.

Bottom line: I see no reason for you to be "petrified."

What should you do?

1. Stop being petrified. Your fears are way out of proportion to any real risk.

2. Regarding HIV, if you are worried, get tested at the three-month mark. However, please note, we do not know if the baby batter on the doorknob was HIV infected or not. And even if it was, HIV does not survive very long at all outside the body. Consequently, your actual risk of HIV contact, let alone transmission, is extremely small. I would consider a three-month test definitive.

3. As for hepatitis C, the risk of transmission based on all the information discussed above is so extremely minimal that no testing or follow-up is warranted or recommended.

4. Put up a sign in all fitting rooms advising patrons that space is to be used for trying on clothes, not rooting like wombats.

Do try to chill out a bit, my dear Aussie. I realize this "sticky situation" can be alarming, but your actual health risks are minimal. In fact, I'd wager you have a greater chance of getting done in by a funnel web spider or choking on a vegemite sandwich than contracting HIV or hepatitis C from this gooey fitting room fiasco.

G'day mate.

Edward W. Hook M.D.
86 months ago

Welcome to the Forum:

I'll be pleased to comment.  first, I would point out that you really do not know that his was semen, do you?  Could it have been nasal or other sorts of mucous?  Even if it was, you do not know that the person it came from had HIV or how long the material had been on the door handle.  This is important since the HIV virus dies almost immediately on contact with the air or being outside of the body so even if the semen was from someone with HIV, the likelihood that there was live virus present is close to zero.

I would also suggest that you read Dr. Bob's comments more closely.  He points out that the source of the semen you refer to was unlikely to be infected with HIV.  In most settings fewer than 1 in 100 average persons have HIV.  When you combine that with his estimate of risk of HIV from mucous membrane exposure (0.09% 0f less than 1 in 1000) that makes your mathematical isk of getting HIV no greater than 1 in 100,000.  In my estimation that is still far too high.   Finally I would point out that there are NO occasions when someone has ever acquired HIV from an exposure of the sort you describe, not ever.  You are not going to be the first..  Thus, for all of these reasons, I will have to disagree with your interpretation of what Dr. Bob has suggested and I suggest that even if all occurred as you suggest, this was a no risk exposure.  I see no medical reason for worry or for testing.  I hope my perspective is helpful to you.  EWH

86 months ago
Sir, in many occasion I got knifecut during cooking preparation and also many times or nails or sharp objects have pierced into my body.lets assume that knife or nail or sharp objects contained blood. So am I at risk of hiv?? I read from your site that blood contaminated sharp objects also pose hiv risk ?so needles and sharp objects also posehiv risk??

2) how much amount blood is requried to get hiv through mucous membrane especially through eyes??is small amount is capable of hiv risk??
Edward W. Hook M.D.
86 months ago

These are the sort of "what if" questions that suggest that you are unnecessarily concerned about the possibility of HIV exposure.  Specific exposures warrant specific replies.  Cuts from knives and other none-hollow point devices rarely carry or transmit HIV.  The reason that needles are a risk if because they have hollow points which can contain blood and protect it from exposure to the atmosphere.  Even then needle punctures must occur very quickly to transmit infection.

Among the MANY factors which affect HIV transmission, transmission is affected by the amount of virus present in the blood, not how much blood a person is exposed to. 

For practical purposes, only mucous membrane exposures occurring in the laboratory with high concentrations of live virus are a concern for HIV transmission.  I am not aware of any instances in which someone has acquired HIV from rubbing their eyes with hands or fingers which are contaminated with HIV containing material. 

As I said above, it appears that you are worrying all too much about HIV.  HIV is almost always acquired by DIRECT sexual contact or injection of infected blood or blood products DEEP into tissue.  Other sorts of exposures are typically not significant risks.  EWH

86 months ago
Thank you..I think I am overly worried..just 1 more questions...1)sometimes objects like pen , cooking plate , spoon and other objects have rubbed or touched my face . I am always concerned that what if there is some blood in objects and when it touched my face some blood could have gone into my EYES and MOUTH
 Thank you from my heart for clearing my doubts. May god bless u
Edward W. Hook M.D.
86 months ago

I'm glad I could help. Sometimes people worry that HIV is easier to acquire than is actually the case.  The virus is quite fragile and dies quickly on exposure to the environment.  As an example, let me point out to you that mutual masturbation, in which it is typical for persons to get each others' genital secretions on each other is considered SAFE SEX with NO RISK for HIV or other STI transmission even if one of the partners is infected.  By extension, simply touching objects which may have been contaminated by genital secretions or blood is not a risky event. 

This is my third reply to this series of questions. As a result and according to Forum guidelines, this thread will be closed later today.  Take care.  EWH

86 months ago
I request you to kindly clarify last and final answer and close the thread..
I meant suppose if.objects like door , curtain hit on.my face( including eyes  and mouth) if there was a large blood on door( or curtains or any objects ) , can I get hiv like this??..
It would like great help.for.me if you could clarify this.doubt.
Thanking you sir
Edward W. Hook M.D.
86 months ago
No one has ever gotten HIV from any of the imagined exposures you describe.  This thread will now close.  EWH