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Question about possible large exposure to urine


Question about exposure risk. I sat down in a subway seat which had a questionable fluid on it. This fluid soaked the back of my sweater and part of my pants. It appears to have been part of a spill on the subway, likely beer since it was very sticky on the floor. When I smelled it, it smelled somewhat like old stale beer (had a sour smell to it), and did not have the frank smell that urine has. However, in the scenario that it was urine instead, what is my exposure risk from having a large amount of urine soak through my clothes and contact my skin with a few areas of unbroken skin (i.e. some cuts on my back)?


Hello and thank you for your inquiry.

I understand that you are concerned about the risk level associated with a situation where your skin came into contact with urine on public transit.

This scenario does not present a risk for transmission of HIV.

In order for HIV to be transmitted, 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) (1)

HIV is not transmitted through urine. There is either not enough of the virus found in urine to infect another person with HIV, or the virus is just not present. (2)

Cuts on your back would not provide adequate direct access to your bloodstream unless they are open and bleeding at the time of exposure.

No need for HIV testing with the scenario described and no further action is required.