Anonymous
Hi there,
I hope this will be my last question to you guys as I'm determined to leave this ocd with daily things behind:
Yesterday I helped a friend putting a band-aid on her finger which was bleeding from a papercut, and as I didn't want to embarass her I didn't straightaway go and wash my hands. Cannot recall seeing any blood on my hands however I cannot be sure now either and what I noticed when I got home later is that apparently I had scratched open a pimple I had behind my ear as I had some dried blood there. Now I'm panicking as I may have unconsciously scratched it RIGHT AFTER I have helped my friend with her bleeding finger. When I went through the other questions on this site, I noted that you were saying that as soon as blood is exposed to air, the hiv in it would die...however, since the cut was still sort of open, the liquid would have gotten straight onto my finger any maybe "perched" more or less airtight under my finger nail - would there have been any chance of infection? I know this all sounds really far-fetched but I am super-worried now and hope you can answer my question...
Many thanks!!
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Anonymous
Hi there, thanks for contacting us with your HIV related questions/concerns. We're happy to help!

I understand that these situations can be concerning, but I hope my answer can help to ease your worries.

This situation that you described is No Risk! There are 2 different reasons for that.

1) HIV is a delicate virus that cannot survive upon exposure to the environment outside of the body. This means that if your friends blood was on your hands/under your fingernail, it would be exposed to the general environment, and it would become damaged and inactivated, eliminating any risk. The fingernail would not provide any airtight environment, and additionally, there are more factors such as light, temperature, and substances in the environment that contribute to the inactivation of viruses, leading them to be non-infectious and no risk.

2) The pimple you scratched would not provide direct access to the bloodstream, which is necessary for HIV transmission. In order for a cut/sore to do this, it needs to be severe. We describe it as a wound that would be gushing blood, or one that needs immediate medical attention such as stitches. Otherwise, HIV is unable to establish an infection, therefore, there is no risk.

So overall in this situation, there is no risk for HIV transmission.

I find this transmission equation really lays it out clearly:


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
I hope this helped to answer your question. For further information about HIV, please visit our website, or avert.org!

Sincerely,

Christina


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