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one inch bleeding scratch

Question: 

What is the probability of being infected with a HIV virus if one inch bleeding scratch was contaminated by hiv infected fluid? I can not find such numer in web. Please help.
Thanks!

Answer: 

Hello,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about the risk of HIV transmission if a one inch bleeding scratch came into contact with a bodily fluid containing HIV. From the information given, this scenario is determined to be Negligible Risk (There are no evidence or no documented cases of transmission).

We have determined this scenario to be of Negligible Risk because even though there are no evidence or no documented cases of transmission, it is a theoretical possibility. What we mean by this, is that there are a lot of undetermined variables within this scenario, IE: How deep is the scratch or cut? How much bodily fluid is present? There are a lot of "what ifs" present as well as other variables to consider, which we will describe below. HIV transmission happens under very specific circumstances, and must meet all requirements of the HIV Transmission Equation(1).

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(1) 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).

Referring to the HIV Transmission Equation(1), we can see that there must be direct access for HIV to enter your bloodstream. In the scenario that you provided, there was most likely no direct access to your bloodstream. The one inch bleeding scratch you described can be categorised as a superficial cut. A superficial cut, likened to that of a paper cut, is simply not deep enough to provide direct access to your bloodstream. In the scenario that you provided, there was also no presence of a risky activity (unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse, sharing needles, mother to child).

HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on surfaces), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host(2). Any bodily fluid containing HIV in this scenario had already been outside of the body, exposed to environmental conditions and was unable to transmit HIV to another person.

Many individuals living with HIV today are living with an undetectable viral load. Avert.org explains undetectable as such, "A person living with HIV is considered to have an ‘undetectable’ viral load when antiretroviral treatment has brought the level of virus in their body to such low levels that blood tests cannot detect it. There is no risk of passing on HIV if your doctor has confirmed that you are undetectable (or virally suppressed), you continue taking your treatment and attend regular viral load monitoring appointments. Undetectable = Untransmittable."(3)

Recommendation: No need for HIV test with the scenario provided. Refer to the resources listed below to learn more about HIV and HIV transmission.

Regards, AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Hilary