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needle sharing vs wound to wound

Question: 

If open wound came in contact with an HIV-positive athlete who is bleeding, the odds of transmission would be less than 0.3 percent so it is the same as for needle sharing. So why many of needle sharing cases were confirmed as route of HIV transmission and never any case when wound came in contact with a HIV positive blood?

Answer: 

Hello,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about acquiring HIV through needle sharing versus wound to wound. From the information given, this scenario is determined to be High Risk (There is evidence of transmission through these activities and are the majority of cases of transmission).

HIV transmission occurs when bodily fluid containing HIV has direct access to the bloodstream of an individual through a high risk activity.

Needle sharing is considered a high risk activity that can occur in HIV transmission (1). It is important to know that what categorizes needle sharing as High Risk is when blood is in a needle it is in a sealed item. If there is blood in a needle containing HIV it can survive over 40 days in a completely sealed environment (i.e syringe) (2).

If you are an IV user it is recommended to always use new clean needles and to not share needles (4). There are many safe injection sites where harm reduction supplies are distributed; here are where needle exchange programs and safe injection sites are in the Vancouver area.

The wound to wound scenario is different in the idea that blood from wounds have exposure to the environment (3). Oxygen from the environment renders HIV as inactive very quickly (3). The wound to wound activity would be seen as riskier depending on the situation. If you are engaging in a blood oath with both freshly opened wounds and are fluid bonding then this would be seen as riskier. In this scenario the wound to wound exposure would be considered to be low risk as there is a technically a possibility for HIV transmission to occur, but the exposure to the environment would not make the activity high risk.

HIV thrives and remains alive and active in sealed environments with higher temperatures (human bodies) without exposure to the environment (1).

Regardless of both these activities the recommendation is: refer to a health care provider for HIV testing.

Regards,

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Danielle

Resources

Needle Exchange Programs

Safe Injection Sites