Anonymous
Hello,

I got a tattoo at the end of December. On new years eve I was staying at an airbnb and went to wash my tattoo with the bar of soap on the sink that was at the airbnb when we got there. I have no idea who used the soap before me and am concerned that if there was something containing HIV on that soap, I put it on my 4 day old tattoo. Am I at risk?
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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 through a used soap bar that was in contact with your tattoo. From the information provided, this scenario is determined to be No Risk (HIV transmission is not possible in the given scenario).  

HIV (contained in a body fluid such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, etc.) is extremely sensitive to the outer environment. Exposure to oxygen in an environment outside of the body causes HIV to undergo a rapid reduction in concentration (1). From the CDC, HIV that may be contained in a fluid (e.g. a dried bodily fluid from another individual on the soap bar), has a rapid (within several hours) reduction in concentration of 90-99% (1), rendering it inactive. Furthermore, although you had a relatively new tattoo, unless you had a large/gaping wound from the procedure, any possible HIV particles on the soap bar would not have had sufficient access to your bloodstream through a High, Low, or Negligible Risk activity. Therefore, the HIV Transmission Equation (see below) would not be satisfied in this scenario.  

Recommendation: There is no evidence or no documented cases of transmission. Refer to a healthcare professional for more personalised answers or other health-related questions.

All the best,
AIDS Vancouver Online/Helpline, Shirley

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Helpline Transmission Equation  (1).jpg
Additional Resources: 
(1) HIV Environmental Exposure
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