Anonymous
Hello,

I recently had a blister pop on my hand (just from work i was doing on the weekend) and it has been healing for the last few days but is still red and healing. I recently shook hands with a women from a convent in Tanzania and without thinking i put out my right hand with the blister and it came into contact with her hand. I do not know for sure if she has AIDs but there is a much higher risk in that country so i wanted to check if i should be concerned or not.

Thank you.
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Anonymous
Hello,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about your risk of acquiring HIV after you shook hands with a woman in Tanzania without remembering that you had a popped blister on your hand that had already been healing for the past few days. From the information given, this scenario is determined to be No Risk (transmission of HIV is not possible in the given scenario).

It is important to note that when assessing the risk of HIV transmission, speculating on the HIV status of another individual does not provide useful information for the assessment. This is why we focus on the activity in which you were involved, and not the demographics of the individuals involved. In your scenario the activity was a handshake.

The scenario mentioned above does not meet the three components of the transmission equation(1). It does not satisfy the equation because:

* For transmission to occur the three components of the HIV Transmission Equation must be met: there must be HIV present in a bodily fluid (ie: in blood, semen or rectal secretions), direct access to the bloodstream (ie: inside of the vagina, anus and other mucous membranes) paired with a high risk activity (ie: unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse, sharing needles, mother to child)(1).

* There must be an exchange of bodily fluids.

* HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on surfaces), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host(2).

* HIV is not transmitted through casual contact, for example, a handshake or hugging(3).

* Superficial wounds, meaning wounds similar to a paper cut, are not deep enough to provide direct access to the bloodstream.


In the scenario that you provided you shook hands with a woman at a convent in Tanzania. On that same hand, you had a blister that had recently popped, had been healing for the past few days, but was still red and irritated. Again, this scenario has been determined to be of No Risk to you for acquiring HIV. HIV cannot be transmitted through casual contact such as handshaking(3). The popped blister on your hand could be considered a superficial cut, which is not deep enough to provide direct access to your bloodstream. The wound(blister) was not actively bleeding at the time of the handshake, and was already beginning the healing process of closing the wound to the external environment. There was no exchange of body fluids during the handshake. Even if there were a body fluid containing HIV on the other person's hand, we know from above that, HIV does not survive long outside of the human body (such as on the surface of the skin), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host(2). The scenario you described does not meet the three components of the HIV Transmission Equation(1), another reason why this scenario has been assessed as No Risk.


Recommendation: No need for HIV test with the scenario provided, refer to the resources we have linked below to learn more about HIV and HIV transmission. Refer to your healthcare professional for other health related questions .

Regards,
AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Hilary



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