Anonymous

Hi,

Is it possible to “store” HIV infected fluids in a jar of Vaseline and then when using the Vaseline on a rectal thermometer for lubrication to measure my daughters temperature she would then be at risk of acquiring HIV? 

My fear is that the jar of Vaseline would work as an airtight environment keeping the virus alive for hours and then when using the thermometer in my daughters rectum, she would acquire HIV. 

Please help me as I am very worried. 

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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 rectal contact with vaseline that potentially had HIV infected fluid inside of it. From the limited information given, this scenario is determined to be Negligible Risk (there is no evidence or no documented cases of transmission, however, there is a theoretical possibility of transmission under certain extenuating circumstances).

While you did not provide context on what setting this incident occurred in, assuming it took place in a clinical setting, it is important to realize that there are many strict medical regulations on hygiene and many items used in hospitals, doctor's offices, etc. such as rectal thermometers are almost always individually wrapped and intended for single patient use. In cases where supplies are shared between patients, they are thoroughly sterilized to prevent infections.

With this in mind, it is highly unlikely for a jar of Vaseline, even if shared amongst patients for this purpose, would contain HIV positive fluid due to the fact that patients would not be using the same rectal thermometer/sticking their used rectal thermometer back into the Vaseline. 

From 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 case, the most realistic way of acquiring HIV in this scenario would be through "fresh" fluid containing HIV positive particles being on the rectal thermometer, which is highly unlikely to occur.

Recommendation: There are no evidence or no documented cases of transmission. Refer to a healthcare professional for more personalized answers.

Best regards,
AIDS Vancouver Online/Helpline, Shirley 

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