Anonymous
I accidentally swallowed HIV blood from a Chapstick, will the HIV be exposed to my bloodstream once it enters my mouth? I use it after a HIV positive friend and I saw some red stuff buy didn't bother me too much until now. Since I read that the mouth is also a mucosal membrane and it is vulnerable to HIV infections, meaning HIV can easily enter my body through the mucosal membrane on my mouth? Can HIV enter my blood stream through my mouth if I don't have any bleeding cuts inside when I swallow?
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Anonymous
Hi there,

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

The short answer is no. Let me explain why.

HIV transmission requires a controlled environment with *no* exposure to air. HIV is an extremely weak virus that dies once it is outside of the human body and exposed to the air. In this case, the chapstick was fully exposed to the air before you used it and so the HIV that you suspect was in the blood would have died. Let me also remind you that HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which means that it can only be transmitted from human to human -- not from human to surface (e.g. chapstick, other makeup, inanimate objects) to human again.

In addition, you are correct that the mouth is considered a mucosal membrane that could transmit HIV, but in this instance HIV transmission could not have occurred. This is because saliva contains an enzyme that inhibits the growth and transmission of HIV. Swallowing small amounts of blood cannot result in HIV transmission due to these enzymes. You would have to swallow very large amounts of blood directly from the deep and freshly bleeding wound of an HIV positive person in order to contract HIV in this manner.

To summarize, in your case, the blood on the chapstick was both 1) exposed to the air, and thus the virus was killed before contacting your lips/mouth, and 2) a small amount, and thus the enzymes in your saliva killed the virus before being swallowed. Meeting one of these conditions would have been sufficient to assess that your situation poses no risk for HIV transmission. Since both these conditions have been met, there is no chance that you contracted HIV.

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

In good health,

Tiina

AIDS Vancouver Volunteer
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