Contact Transmission Of HIV
Contact Transmission Of HIV
Charles Farthing (Chief of Medicine, AIDS Healthcare Foundation) gives expert video advice on: Can HIV be transmitted by sharing a toothbrush or a razor?; Are health care workers at risk of getting HIV on the job?; Can I get HIV from my dentist? and more...
Can HIV be transmitted through kissing?
HIV, we believe, cannot be transmitted through kissing. Saliva actually has enzymes in it that inhibit HIV pretty successfully. So far as I'm aware there's no case of HIV ever being recorded ever been transmitted by kissing.
Can HIV be transmitted through casual contact?
HIV cannot be transmitted through casual contact. We only have to look at the epidemiology of HIV, and you can always track where the HIV viruses come from. It is always by sexual transmission or intravenous drug use, There aren't spontaneous, mysterious cases of HIV occurring. Of course there would be many if HIV were transmitted by casual contact.
Can HIV be transmitted by sharing a toothbrush or a razor?
HIV could possibly be transmitted by sharing a toothbrush or a razor, because they are instruments that can cause bleeding, either from the gum or from small nicks in the skin. So it would be a very bad practice to share an HIV positive person's toothbrush or razor. Of course that is not a practice that we would encourage between HIV negative people, either.
Are health care workers at risk of getting HIV on the job?
Health care workers can be at risk of getting HIV on the job through needle-stick injury. That is the only significant risk and it's a very small risk. A needle-stick injury from an HIV positive individual carries about a 0.05% chance of transmission of HIV. We have to very careful in the healthcare setting, when we are taking blood or using any needles in patients, that the health care worker doesn't get pricked. We have to do that in a way that we call universal precautions because we never know who is HIV positive. Or, sometimes we know who is HIV positive, but there are many patients that we would bleed who neither the patient nor the health care worker knows the HIV status at that time. We have to avoid needle-stick injuries with all patients.
What are healthcare 'universal precautions'?
Universal precautions means precautions that you use with all patients. You use them universally. And universal precautions mean that you're very careful with blood. Universal precautions also mean you're very careful with prevention of needle stick injury, with all patients. Some doctors, especially early in the epidemic, would refuse perhaps to operate on an HIV-positive person because they thought there was a risk, which when you think about it, is so absurd because those doctors have probably already operated on 5 or 6 HIV-positive patients already where they didn't know it. So if you're going to to protect yourself, you have to take universal precautions, and protect yourself not only from the known case but the unknown case.
Can I get HIV from my dentist?
I don't think you could get HIV from your dentist. Unfortunately, there was a case in Florida of several people who went to the same dentist contracting HIV. This was some ten, twenty years ago now, fifteen years ago. It seems that that case series almost looks like it was deliberate HIV infection. It's never been replicated, and doesn't make any sense that a healthcare worker could transmit HIV without somehow deliberately doing it.
Can I get HIV through a blood transfusion?
It is possible to get HIV through a blood transfusion. It is very, very unlikely in countries where blood is tested for HIV. However, prior to that occurring, in the early 80s, quite a number of people got infected from blood transfusion. Even more dangerous blood product transfusion, such as factor 8 and factor 9 that hemophiliacs used, which has to use many, many pints of blood for many, many patients which are added together to get the factor 8 out of them. However, now that blood is tested it is rare to contract HIV from a transfusion. However, if you are traveling and you are in a country that's very remote or poor and you need a blood transfusion, you should be very careful to see if that blood gets tested for HIV before it is administered to you if at all possible.