I have a piece of skin flapping above my finger nail that is bleeding lightly and I scraped it on a folder I was filing into a drawer. I saw a blood streak on that same folder where my finger that is bleeding rubbed up against. The blood streak I could not tell if it was from someone else or from me. If it was not my blood and it was someone else's that possibly was bleeding and filing in that same folder and got their blood on the folder and then I immediately came along after and placed my bleeding finger in that same folder with the bloody streak and actually my cut that was bleeding came in contact with the bloody streak am I at risk for hiv? I'm so stressed out I seem to have a situation where I'm bleeding small cuts and always end up seeing blood on something and always touch it by accident with my own cut. Especially filing because you get lots of tears on your skin and nails from in the papers and folders. I could not tell if the blood was wet or dry. All I know is my finger was bleeding lightly and rubbed exactly on the bloody streak mark I saw in the folder. Please write me a detailed message back regarding if this is an actual risk.
Hi there,

Thanks for contacting the AIDS Vancouver Helpline for HIV related information.

No, you are not at risk of contracting HIV from this situation. This is because HIV transmission requires all of the following:

1. Body fluids containing high levels of HIV, e.g. blood, semen, and vaginal/rectal secretions,

2. A high-risk activity, e.g. unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse or the sharing of needles,

3. Direct access for HIV-containing body fluids to enter the bloodstream, e.g. through the vagina, anus, mucus membranes, or points of needle injection, and

4. A controlled environment, which means *no exposure to air*. HIV is an extremely weak virus that dies once exposed to the air. Sites such as the vagina or anus are considered controlled environments where the virus can be transmitted and can grow, whereas file folders, papers, and other surfaces are not (since they are fully exposed to air).

In your situation, someone else's blood had dried on the folder and was therefore fully exposed to the air before you touched it. If the blood did contain HIV, it would have died immediately once it touched the file and could not have been transmitted. Let me also inform you that HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus -- the virus can only be transferred directly from human to human, not from human to some kind of surface to human again.

In addition, small cuts on your hand do not allow HIV-containing fluids to directly access your bloodstream. Your cut would have to be very deep, gaping, and heavily bleeding in order for the cut to offer direct access to your bloodstream. The body forms natural defences and barriers against pathogens/viruses when you get a small cut, and HIV cannot access your bloodstream through this complex lattice of defences. Therefore, the combination of 1) dried blood on a folder and 2) touching the blood with a small cut on your hand pose no risk for HIV transmission.

I trust I have addressed your concerns. Should you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us again.

In good health,


AIDS Vancouver Volunteer


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