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HIV transmission through towel.


Hi! I had sex with my ex last month in a motel room, When changing my clothes I accidentally used a towel with a semen on it, Given that the motel didn't changed their towel after the first one who used the same room. Is there a chance or Am I at risk of having HIV if the person who used the towel first is HIV infected? Because I used the towel with his semen on it?



Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about the risk of transmission after you used a towel in a motel room that had dried semen on it from a previous occupant. From the information given, this scenario is determined to be No Risk (transmission of HIV is not possible in the given scenario).

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).

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

The scenario you have described is determined to be a No Risk scenario. This means that the specific activity of wiping a towel, that contains dried semen, on your body does not provide provide the conditions necessary for you to acquire HIV. This is because HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on surfaces, like towels), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host(2). This means that any dried semen on the towel, was already outside of the human body, exposed to external environmental conditions, and thus, HIV was unable to reproduce or transmit to you.

We would encourage you to check out the resource we have linked below to learn more about HIV and HIV transmission.

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