Anonymous
I went to play pool with some friends.

After playing for a while I noticed a slight sting on my fingers, and when I looked down, my fingers were covered in a greyish stain - that I assume to just be the result of a dirty pool table. And also some scratches on my fingers ( broken skin, exposed flesh but not bleeding ), which were also covered in said stain.

i am now afraid that somebody had bled onto the pool table before me and would the scratches provide a route for HIV transmission? 
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helpline-volunteer

Hello,


Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about the possibility of HIV transmission through scratches in your hand that were in contact with a dried gray substance which stained your fingers. 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) 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 outside of the body that is drying on a surface (in this case being the pool table you touched), has a rapid (within several hours) reduction in concentration of 90-99% (1). Small superficial cuts, like the scratches on your hands, are not deep enough to permit direct access of blood into your bloodstream. A higher risk of HIV transmission would be present if the cuts on your hands were deeper or larger open wounds. Therefore, this situation does not meet the requirements for the HIV Transmission Equation (see image below) as the staining substance that was in contact with your fingers did not have sufficient access to your bloodstream through a High, Low, or Negligible Risk activity. For these reasons, you are not at risk of HIV transmission.

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

All the best,
AIDS Vancouver Online/Helpline, Shirley

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

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