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dried my hands with a paper towel that had dried blood and then ate something

Question: 

HI,
So I was at the grocery store and I used the bathroom and washed my hands and dried them with a paper towel from the dispenser. I don't know if the person that installed the roll had a cut but it seemed that every time I pulled a towel out it looked like dried blood. I already used two towels before I noticed. But the problem is I used the bathroom when I first got to the store, used the towels, then shopped and had a snack while I shopped. It wasn't until my second visit to the bathroom to wash my hands b/c of the sticky snack I realized the towels had stuff on them. IF that was blood, and I used the towels and had a snack, are there any risks? Thanks I have a canker sore inside my mouth as well. THanks.

Answer: 

Hello and thank you for your inquiry.

We understand that you are wondering if you are at risk of acquiring HIV when you wiped your hands on paper towel which might have contained dried blood. This is a No Risk situation.

Here's why:

Scientists and medical authorities agree that HIV does not survive well in the environment, making the possibility of environmental transmission remote. HIV is found in varying concentrations or amounts in blood, semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk, saliva and tears. To obtain data on the survival of HIV, laboratory studies have required the use of artificially high concentrations of laboratory-grown virus. Although these unnatural concentrations of HIV can be kept alive for days or even weeks under precisely controlled and limited laboratory conditions, CDC studies have shown that drying of even these high concentrations of HIV reduces the amount of infectious virus by 90 to 99 percent within several hours.(1)

Since the HIV concentrations used in laboratory studies are much higher than those actually found in blood or other specimens, drying of HIV-infected human blood or other body fluids reduces the theoretical risk of environmental transmission to that which has been observed--essentially zero. Incorrect interpretation of conclusions drawn from laboratory studies have unnecessarily alarmed some people. Results from laboratory studies should not be used to assess specific personal risk of infection because (1) the amount of virus studied is not found in human specimens or elsewhere in nature, and (2) no one has been identified as infected with HIV due to contact with an environmental surface. Additionally, HIV is unable to reproduce outside its living host (unlike many bacteria or fungi, which may do so under suitable conditions), except under laboratory conditions, therefore, it does not spread or maintain infectiousness outside its host.(1)

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

Regards, AIDS Vancouver Helpline Volunteer, Dyson