Anonymous
Hi there,

Could you please clarify something for me: in one post (http://helpline.aidsvancouver.org/question/hiv-bloody-handshake) it was stated that shaking hands with both people having cuts is considered a negligible risk, however in almost every other post that I found it is clearly stated "no risk" (casual contact, exposure to air, etc.)...I had clipped off some skin around my nail which had been sticking out and only afterwards noticed that it had bled a little (maybe 2-3mm cut) - as I had no bandaid on, would I have been at risk at all for shaking someone's hand, exchanging cash with cashier at a shop etc.? I assume I didn't access anybody's bloodstream directly (and unknowingly) but if anyone had open cuts on their hands, could this have changed anything??

Thanks a lot for your help and a comprehensive answer!!
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Anonymous
Hello and thanks for reaching out to the AIDS Vancouver Helpline.

It sounds like you want some more information regarding cuts and HIV transmission.

When it comes to distinguishing the risk level of HIV transmission, it comes down to actions of the individual rather than the individual. From what you have told me, you are concerned about the risk of acquiring HIV from shaking someone's hand, exchanging cash with a cashier when you had a small cut around your nail. As stated in the previous post HIV is a virus that cannot live outside the human body. Furthermore, with the HIV virus being fragile, once exposed to air it is no longer transmissible. Generally, for there to be a risk of HIV transmission there needs to be a body fluid, an activity such as unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse, and a direct access for the virus to enter the bloodstream. In your particular case, your wound would not be deep enough at all to grant you any risk of acquiring HIV. Thus you would be at No Risk of acquiring HIV.

Below is an HIV Transmission Equation chart, which goes into further detail about the necessary factors that are required for there to be a risk of HIV transmission.

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
For more information about HIV you can visit [HIV Basics](http://catie.ca/en/basics/hiv-and-aids#how).

Regards,

Chris, Volunteer

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online

helpline.aidsvancouver.org

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