Hi I 'm a female and have extreme HIV paranoia. I have a question about a recent situation I was in. I went to the ladies room and as I was sitting on the toilet the cover went aside and I pretty much sat on the the toilet with no protection in between . since I had shaved before I wanted to make sure the seat was dry so I touched it and my hand touched a blood/vaginal stain on the seat. it seemed dried to me but my hand touched it multiple time. of course I washed my hand s. I was wondering if I put myself at risk for hiv or anything. thank you
Hi there,

Thanks for contacting us at AIDS Vancouver for your HIV related inquires.

To be direct – no. The situation you described put you at no risk for HIV transmission.

Let me explain why. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a *sexually transmitted disease that is passed from human to human*. It cannot be passed from human-to-object-to-human. This is due to the fact that the virus is actually quite weak. It dies as soon as it is exposed to the air.

First, the virus needs a closed system (ie – the human body) to survive. The only reason the virus can sometimes be transferred through shared needles is because the needle provides that closed, air-tight, system that is necessary for the virus to survive.

Second, the specific bodily fluids that can carry HIV need to be present. These fluids are blood, semen, vaginal/anal fluids and breast milk. The stain on the seat could be a number of things (including a water or urine stain). We do not like to deal with hypothetical situations as discussing all the theoretical what-ifs can contribute to anxieties. For HIV transmission to occur, the bodily fluids need to fresh. A stain on a toilet seat is not considered to be the ‘required bodily fluids.’

Third, the aforementioned bodily fluids of the HIV+ person need direct access to the blood stream of the HIV- person. *Direct access* means vaginal or anal penetration, the sharing of needles or deep, fresh and profusely bleeding wounds (think stab wound). Small abrasions from shaving would not constitute the label of “direct access to the blood stream.” Again, HIV is a weak virus. It cannot fight through any barriers, such as condoms or skin. When your body has a small cut, the blood immediately clots and the skin begins to repair itself. The HIV virus cannot fight through these natural barriers.

Lastly, I believe it is important for us to discuss your self-proclaimed HIV paranoia. It is important to note that stress itself can be incredibly difficult on the body, and may lead to illnesses. Your continued paranoia around HIV also contributes to the stigma that HIV+ people experience on a daily basis. I strongly encourage you to discuss this paranoia with your health care professional.

I trust this has adequately answered your questions. Feel free to contact us again with any other concerns. You can call us on the helpline at 604-696-4666 or email us at

In health,
AIDS Vancouver Helpline Volunteer.


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