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Small Cut on finger whilst cleaning dirty hotel - HIV risk?

Question: 

Hello, whilst replacing bed sheets I cut my thumb slightly due to the sheet catching on a flappy piece of skin and pulling it off. I remember the cut being quite shallow and now that it has healed the scar is quite small. The cut was bleeding quite a lot, however I washed it and carried on but I'm worried that I may have contracted the virus as I touched various dirty sheets and some moist towels, but tried to ensure that my small cut didn't touch the dirty laundry. I don't think I touched any dried blood or another dried bodily fluids but I'm concerned that I may have without realising it. I'm really anxious and worried that I may have contracted the virus as the hotel itself isn't the most reputable. Is there any chance that I may have contracted it?

Thank you, Amrit

Answer: 

Hi there and thank you for reaching out to AIDS Vancouver with your questions. We're happy to help!

To answer your question, no, this is not a method of transmission for HIV, and is considered a no risk situation. HIV is a very delicate virus, and cannot survive for long outside of the human body. Once is it exposed to the air, the virus becomes damaged and is no longer able to transmit. Any blood that was sitting on the dirty laundry (sheets, moist towels, etc.) would have already been exposed to the air and thus constitutes a no risk situation.

I also wanted to talk about why small, superficial cuts do not pose as a risk for HIV transmission. To help with my explanation, here is a copy of the AIDS Vancouver transmission equation that we use to determine whether or not there is a risk for transmission:

HIV TRANSMISSION EQUATION

BODY FLUID
+
ACTIVITY
+
DIRECT ACCESS TO BLOODSTREAM
• blood (including menstrual) • unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse • vagina
• semen • sharing needles • anus
• pre-cum • mother to child (in specific cases) • urethra in the penis
• rectal secretions • open cuts and sores (in theory)
• vaginal fluids • other mucosal membranes
• breast milk • points of needle injection

= RISK OF HIV TRANSMISSION

In order for there to be a risk of HIV transmission, all 3 factors (body fluid, activity, and direct access to the bloodstream) must be present. The main thing lacking in your interaction is direct access to the bloodstream. In order for a cut or wound to provide said access, the cut needs to be gushing blood and require immediate and professional medical attention. A small cut like the one described in your question does not provide direct access to the bloodstream.

If you’re interested, here are some great resources to help further your understand about HIV Transmission:

Avert and CATIE are two fantastic and reliable website concerning HIV transmission and testing, and I encourage you to take a read through if you have any further questions.

I hope I was able to answer your question, and feel free to contact us with any further concerns.

Regards,

Sierra, Helpline Volunteer

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online
helpline.aidsvancouver.org