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Am I at risk? Stepped in blood with bare feet

Question: 

The other day I was doing contact sports. We are not allowed to wear shoes during training. One person was bleeding and before I realised it I accidentally stepped in a few tiny droplets of relatively fresh blood with my bare feet. Unfortunately, I could not wash my feet until after the training. I am informed that HIV cannot penetrate skin, so I was not worried at that moment. However, when I came back home and washed my feet I realised that I had 2 by 4 mm wound between 2 toes and that is were the anxiety started kicking in. The wound appeared to be superficial since it was not actively bleeding but it did have pink flesh colour.

Am I at risk for contracting HIV if this person's blood contained the virus and if some of the droplets entered my small wound?

Thank you for your consideration

Answer: 

Hi there and thank you for reaching out to AIDS Vancouver with your questions! We're happy to help.

To answer your question, no, this is not a method of transmission for HIV, and is considered a no risk situation. HIV is a very delicate virus, and cannot survive for long outside of the human body. Once is it exposed to the air, the virus becomes damaged and is no longer able to transmit. Any blood that was on the ground would have already been exposed to the air and thus constitutes a no risk situation.

I also wanted to talk about why small cuts like the ones that you described do not pose a risk for HIV transmission. To help with my explanation, here is a copy of the AIDS Vancouver transmission equation that we use to determine whether or not there is a risk for transmission:

HIV TRANSMISSION EQUATION

BODY FLUID
+
ACTIVITY
+
DIRECT ACCESS TO BLOODSTREAM
• blood (including menstrual) • unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse • vagina
• semen • sharing needles • anus
• pre-cum • mother to child (in specific cases) • urethra in the penis
• rectal secretions • open cuts and sores (in theory)
• vaginal fluids • other mucosal membranes
• breast milk • points of needle injection

= RISK OF HIV TRANSMISSION

In order for there to be a risk of HIV transmission, all 3 factors (body fluid, activity, and direct access to the bloodstream) must be present. The main thing lacking in your interaction is direct access to the bloodstream. In order for a cut or wound to provide said access, the cut needs to be gushing blood and require immediate and professional medical attention. A small cut like the one described in your question does not provide direct access to the bloodstream.

If you’re interested, here are some great resources to help further your understand about HIV Transmission:

Avert and CATIE are two fantastic and reliable website concerning HIV transmission and testing, and I highly encourage you to take a read through if you have any further questions.

I hope I was able to answer your question, and feel free to contact us with any further concerns.

Regards,

Sierra, Helpline Volunteer

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online
helpline.aidsvancouver.org