I had cut my hand to the point it was bleeding bad well about 15 mins later I got to work and my manager (who is gay) shook my hand forgetting about the cut and blood but I noticed he also had a fresh cut. What are my risk chances from the cuts touching? I've since used some rubbing alcohol to clean the cut and bandage it and the cut seems to still be bleeding a little.
Hi there,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about the possibility of HIV transmission through shaking someone's cut hand with one's own cut hand. From the information provided, this scenario is determined to be Low Risk (evidence of transmission occurs through these activities when certain conditions are met).

According to the HIV Transmission Equation (see below), 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 activity. 

In this scenario, the risk of transmission is heavily dependent on the degree to which you and your manager were cut. If one or both of you only had a superficial cut, there would be No Risk, as this would not permit any hypothetical HIV positive particles in the other individual's blood to have sufficient access to your bloodstream, a necessary condition of the HIV Transmission Equation. A superficial cut is a small cut that "does not involve fat or muscle tissue" (i.e., leaves the deeper skin layers intact) and is not bleeding heavily (1). In contrast, if both of you had deep cuts/profusely bleeding wounds, this would lead to a higher risk assessment due to the possibility of the other individual's blood having sufficient access to your bloodstream.

Another important consideration is the fact that 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 (2). 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 (2). Depending on how recent the other individual was cut, this would drastically reduce the level of risk in this scenario.

Furthermore, it is important to acknowledge that when considering HIV transmission, we only focus on the activity, and not the individual. You mentioned that your manager is gay, however it is worth noting that all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation, are equally susceptible to HIV depending on their activities. 

Recommendation: Refer to a health care provider for HIV testing.

All the best,
AIDS Vancouver Online/Helpline, Shirley

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Additional Resources: 
(1) Lacerations (Cuts) Without Stitches
(2) HIV Environmental Exposure


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