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Touching Urine of someone with HIV

Question: 

Hi,

I may just be paranoid but I'd like to be reassured either way. I work in healthcare and was carrying a bedpan of urine of a person who is HIV positive. There wasn't any visible blood in it that I can recall. I can't remember if her viral load was undetectable but I know it was very low or very well controlled. I don't recall getting any urine on my hands but I scratched an insect bite on my neck afterwards so if I did have a small drop of urine on my hands it could have come into contact with some broken skin. Can you tell me if there is any risk at all of transmission, even if it's tiny? Thanks.

Answer: 

Hi there,

Thank you for contacting AIDS Vancouver.

HIV is transmitted through unprotected sex and sharing needles. In the case of healthcare workers, the risk is highest in the case of a needlestick injury when drawing blood. Body fluids like blood, semen and vaginal fluids are ones that can contain high levels of HIV. Fluids such as urine, saliva, tears, sweat and feces either contain no HIV or it exists in a quantity too small to result in transmission. Furthermore, HIV cannot live outside the body for more than a minute because exposure to oxygen kills it, so even if you blood touched you (i.e. bathing a patient who is menstruating), you still would not be at significant risk.

The scenario you've described is of negligible risk. This means ythat ZERO cases of HIV transmission have ever been documented in this instance. HIV needs direct access to the blood stream. A scratch from an insect bite is not a sufficient entrypoint. You'd need a big, open, gaping wound (think a knife fight) for that to happen.

So you don't need to be concerned. In the future, you can always wear latex gloves and wash up as part of good healthcare practice.

Any further questions, please don't hesitate to ask,

Best

Maggie

AIDS Vancouver Volunteer