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Toilet bowl contact with hand/open cut

Question: 

I'm a bit obsessive compulsive about this, but I was using a semi-public restroom at my office and dropped something in the toilet. Without thinking, I reached it to retrieve it, washed my hands well, and then noticed two small cuts on the same hand I reached into the toilet bowl with. They weren't actively bleeding but had been bleeding the day before, and I completely forgot about them. Washed my hands again and sanitized them, but I can't get this out of my head. Any risk of HIV transmission?

Answer: 

Hello and thank you for reaching out to the AIDS Vancouver Helpline.

It sounds like you are concerned about the likelihood of acquiring HIV from the described scenario.

When it comes to HIV it is important to remember that it is a human to human virus. For HIV transmission to be possible there needs to be a body fluid, an activity such as unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse and a direct access to the bloodstream. Furthermore, HIV is fragile and once exposed to air it is damaged to the point that it is no longer transmissible. It is due to this fragility that one is not able to acquire HIV from body fluids that have been in contact with inanimate objects. From the scenario that you have described you would be at No Risk of acquiring HIV as it is not possible to acquire HIV from an inanimate object. The small cuts on your hand would not heighten the risk of acquiring HIV as they do not provide a direct access to your bloodstream.

Below I have attached a copy of an HIV Transmission Equation Chart which goes into further detail on the necessary factors that are required for there to be a risk of HIV 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

For more information about HIV you can visit What is HIV?.

Regards,

Chris, Volunteer