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HIV Transmission through Cut in Mouth


**** Last month I was on a flight and there was some broken glass on my meal tray. I didn't realize it at first, however somehow when the flight attendant was serving me some must have got into my food and I cut my tongue on a tiny piece.

Is it possible that I could have contracted HIV in this manner if the flight attendant had also cut himself on the glass while serving me and then I consumed the glass, cutting my tongue in the process?

I have had a rash on my chest for a week now and I've been worried sick that I may have contracted HIV in this manner. Please help me.

Thank you.


Hello and thank you for your inquiry.

We understand that you want to know if it is possible to acquire HIV from cutting your tongue on and consuming a small piece of glass.

This scenario does not carry a risk for transmission of HIV (transmission of HIV is not possible in the given scenario)

Scientists and medical authorities agree that HIV does not survive well in the environment, making the possibility of environmental transmission low. Drying of HIV infected human blood or other body fluids reduces the risk of environmental transmission to that which has been observed — essentially zero. (1)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can’t get HIV from consuming food handled by an HIV-infected person. Even if the food contained small amounts of HIV-infected blood or semen, exposure to the air, heat from cooking, and stomach acid would destroy the virus. (2)

Even in the extremely unlikely conditions, you have described where your flight attendant had untreated HIV, cut himself and bled onto a piece of glass and then served you food containing that glass, you would still not be at risk.

Recommendation: An HIV test is not necessary for this situation. Your chest rash could be attributed to a number of different causes and we recommend seeing a doctor about this if it persists. I hope that this information eases some of your worry.


AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Dyson