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Risk of HIV infection or hep C after contact with dried blood?

Question: 

Hello,

I visited a wax bar for the first time a couple days ago and they provided vaginal wipes to freshen up before waxing. The wipes are individually packaged and the one I got had brown stains on the package. I didn't think much of it at first, thinking it's coffee/tea stains. Anyway, I opened the package and used the wipe. After waxing, I bled a little and was told it can happen. Once I got home, it crossed my mind that the brown stain may have been dried blood. I don't think the wipe touched the packaging but I am quite worried and concerned since I did use the wipe on myself. Is there any risk of HIV infection or hepatitis C in this case? Do I need to get tested? I've been really anxious about this and would really appreciate any advice you can give.

Answer: 

Hello,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about the risk of acquiring HIV and/or Hepatitis C after using vaginal wipes. You are concerned the brown stains that you noticed on the packaging could have been dried blood. 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 provided is a No Risk scenario for HIV transmission. HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on surfaces), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host(2). This means that any bodily fluid containing HIV on the outside of the wipe packaging was already outside of the human body, exposed to environmental conditions, and thus, unable to transmit HIV to you. We can see from above the three components that of the HIV transmission equation that must be met for HIV transmission to occur. The activity that you have described in this scenario, touching the outside of the vaginal wipe packaging with possible dried blood on it and then using the vaginal wipe on yourself, does not meet the meet the three components of the transmission equation(1).

You were also concerned about the possibility of acquiring Hepatitis C through this scenario. On this forum, we assess risk of HIV transmission, therefore, we will refer you to CATIE, a trusted source for Hepatitis C information. Even though it is unlikely that you acquired Hepatitis C in this scenario, testing is the only you can know for sure if you are living with Hepatitis C. If you have further concerns about Hepatitis C after having looked through the CATIE resources, please contact your healthcare professional to discuss your concerns in more detail and arrange for any testing you may wish to have done.

Recommendation: No need for HIV test with the scenario provided. Please click on the following link, "CATIE: Trusted Source for Hep C Information", for more information about Hepatitis C transmission. Refer to a physician for other health related questions and concerns.

Regards, AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Hilary