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HIV Transmission From Hand Washing

Question: 

I have a question regarding something that has been on my mind. I was rinsing my hands in a public restroom when I noticed some blood in the sink. I am worried some might have splashed back at me and on my my hands( I did not notice any). My issue is that I had a couple small cuts and a small splinter on my hand from doing some yard work the day before. Do I need to worry about this?

Answer: 

Hello and thank you for your question.

We understand that you are asking if there is a risk of getting HIV from washing your hands in a public restroom.

This scenario does not carry a risk for HIV transmission.

According to the CDC, HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on surfaces), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host. (1)

In order to transmit HIV the following conditions must be met:

  • There must be HIV present in a bodily fluid. The five bodily fluids that carry the HIV virus include: blood, semen (including pre-ejaculate), vaginal fluids, breast milk, and rectal secretions.

  • The bodily fluid containing HIV must have direct access to the bloodstream. This can be through cuts, tears, rips, mucous membranes, open sores, or needles.

  • Transmission occurs through a risky activity in which the first two conditions are met. For example: condom-less sex, sharing needles, unsafe tattoos or piercings, vertical transmission–from mother to child (in utero, during delivery, breastfeeding) (2)

Small cuts and splinters do not provide the degree of direct access to the bloodstream required for HIV to be transmitted. The type of cuts that would provide direct access to your blood stream would be cuts that require stitches, or open sores.

You are not at risk for HIV infection from the scenario you described and no further action is required

Regards, AIDS Vancouver Helpline, Dyson