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HIV cut wound.

Question: 

Hello,
Hope this finds you well,

We thank you for all your help that you provide here.

I have a lot of eczema on my body and hands, which tend to bleed from time to time depending if i scratch or touch them. I suffer from this skin condition. So I was walking down the street and scratching an eczema on my knuckle and it was bleeding, it was actively bleeding. A homeless guy was walking across us on the street (he is possible to have a drug addiction or hiv) he caught my hand suddenly while i was scratching my knuckles and they were bleeding. im scared he has some hiv blood on his hand and it got into the cut eczema on my knuckle. I don't mean to judge that homeless guy i'm just saying there is a possibility of him having HIV since he looked very sick and looked like he is a drug addict.

please help me with this and tell me what to do, should i go to the emergency and ask for a HIV treatment (PEP).

Thanks a lot for all your help always.

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 sitting on the other person's hand 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 one you described on your hand do not constitute a risk for HIV transmission. To start off with, here is a copy of the AIDS Vancouver Transmission Equation that we use to determine if 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 superficial cut like the one described in your question does not provide direct access to the bloodstream.

Lastly, it is important to note that a homeless person is not necessarily at a higher risk for HIV than anyone else. Anyone can pass HIV, no matter what age, occupation, ethnicity, or gender. Here at AIDS Vancouver, we focus on the activity (eg. unprotected vaginal intervourse) rather than the person.

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

Kind regards,

Sierra, Helpline Volunteer

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online
helpline.aidsvancouver.org