Anxiety1
Please forgive my anxiety driven question that I’m about to ask. I was picking up trash last Monday and picked up a plastic bag that had been tied shut. Not sure how long it was there or what was in it. I was wearing insulated leather gloves. If there was something on the part of the bag that I grabbed, will I be at risk? Like I said, I was wearing insulted leather gloves. My fear is that something got on my gloves and then I touched it when I took my gloves off. Thank you in advance for your time to answer my question. 
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helpline-volunteer
Hi there,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about the possibility of HIV transmission from a casual contact with a plastic bag that may have been contaminated. 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 HIV Transmission Equation (see the image below). It does not satisfy the equation because HIV transmission requires a bodily fluid (e.g. blood) that has direct access to the bloodstream (e.g. via open cuts and sores, sexual organs, mucosal membranes, etc.) through an High/Low/Negligible Risk activity. In this case, you are not at risk for HIV because even if a fluid containing HIV got on your hands after you took off your gloves, it would not have had a sufficient entry point into your bloodstream.

Furthermore, HIV (contained in a body fluid such as blood) is extremely sensitive to the outer environment. Exposure to oxygen in the air causes HIV to undergo a rapid reduction in concentration (1). From the CDC, HIV contained in a fluid has a rapid (within several hours) reduction in concentration of 90-99%, which would render it inactive (1). Therefore, even if there was a substance that contained HIV particles on the bag you touched, the HIV particles would have been inactivated as a result of the oxygen exposure.

Recommendation: No need for an HIV test with the scenario provided, please refer to a healthcare professional for any other health-related questions.

Helpline Transmission Equation .jpg
Regards,
AIDS Vancouver Online/Helpline, Shirley

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Additional Resources: 
(1) HIV Environmental Exposure

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