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Can you contract HIV from touching a surface and HIV person has vomitted/coughed on?

Question: 

I know this probably sounds ridiculous but a family member visited recently and coughed/vomitted in my bathroom basin. I proceeded to douse the area in bleach to clean it afterward.
My question is can I contract HIV from touching the surface after washing my hands to insert a new tampon?
I've read a lot of info and am confused. I was diagnosed with HR HPV but my last Pap came back clear and good.
Please assist.

Answer: 

Hello,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about your risk of acquiring HIV after a family member coughed and vomited in your bathroom basin. You are concerned that after cleaning the area, washing your hands, and then inserting a new tampon, that you may be at risk for acquiring HIV. From the information given, this scenario is determined to be No Risk (transmission of HIV is not possible in the given scenario).

No question is ridiculous, we appreciate you reaching out and trusting us to answer your question! Thank you!

The scenario mentioned above does not meet the three components of the transmission equation(1). It does not satisfy the equation because:

  • For transmission to occur the three components of the HIV Transmission Equation must be met: there must be HIV present in a bodily fluid (ie: in blood, semen or rectal secretions), direct access to the bloodstream (ie: inside of the vagina, anus and other mucous membranes) paired with a high risk activity (ie: unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse, sharing needles, mother to child)(1).

  • There must be an exchange of bodily fluids(1).

  • HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on surfaces), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host(2).

In the scenario you described, you were concerned that you may be at risk of acquiring HIV after a family member coughed and vomited in your bathroom basin, after which you cleaned up, washed your hands and inserted a new tampon. This scenario has been determined to be a No Risk scenario, meaning that, transmission of HIV is not possible in the given scenario. HIV in transmitted through 5 bodily fluids: blood, semen (including pre-cum), rectal fluid, vaginal fluid and breast milk.(3) From our understanding of the scenario, none of these bodily fluids were present, and an exchange of bodily fluids did not occur.

HIV is not transmitted through social contact such as hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toilette or dishes.(1) HIV is not transmitted through a cough or when cleaning up vomit. There is no risk for you to acquire HIV when putting in a new tampon after having cleaned up the vomit. HIV does not survive long outside of the human body (such as on a bathroom basin or on your hands), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host(2). If you had come into contact with any of the aforementioned 5 bodily fluids, they would have been already outside of the human body, exposed to environmental conditions and thus, unable to reproduce and unable to transmit to you.

There must be direct access to your bloodstream in order for transmission to occur. There was no direct access to your bloodstream in this scenario. We understand that 'inside the vagina' is listed above as a method of direct access to the bloodstream. There would be direct access to the bloodstream inside the vagina while engaging in a high risk activity like unprotected vaginal intercourse for example, where an exchange of bodily fluids is possibly inside of the closed environment of the vagina. This is not so for simply inserting a tampon.

Recommendation: No need for HIV test with the scenario provided, refer to a physician for other health related questions.

Regards, AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Hilary