fear of infecting humans Immunodeficiency The virus (HIV) can sometimes overtake the fear of sexual transmission. In fact, some people believe that you can get HIV from surfaces with HIV-infected blood or semen.
These concerns are not supported by scientific evidence. HIV needs certain unlikely conditions to survive outside the human body.
This article looks at the HIV virus and how long it can survive outside the body. It also studies whether you can get HIV from this exposure.
Learn about HIV
Assess the risk of HIV infection
Under certain conditions, HIV can survive outside the body for hours or even days. However, the conditions must be just right.
To survive, HIV needs the following rights:
- humidity. This measures the moisture level in the environment.
- UV exposure. This is exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight.
- pH balance. This is a measure of how acidic the environment is.
This is a very unusual set of circumstances. However, it is possible.
If HIV does survive outside the body, how dangerous is it? Is there a risk of infection from people who come into contact or casually with infected blood or semen? The answer to this question is almost universally “no.”
To understand this. You need to know the difference between perceived risk and documented risk.
Perceived and documented risk
Perceived risk is also known as theoretical risk. It is based on belief rather than fact. Even if the event is unlikely to happen, it will persist.
A documented or actual risk is based on evidence that something might actually happen.
Perceived risk is about theory. The documented risks are related to the facts.
With HIV, the likelihood of infection is not an actual risk unless four specific conditions are met:
- There must be bodily fluids for HIV to thrive. This includes semen, blood, vaginal fluid, and breast milk. HIV cannot reproduce in places with high acidity. This includes the stomach and bladder.
- There must be a way for HIV to enter the body. This includes sexual intercourse and sharing needles. In rare cases, occupational exposure may occur. This is where HIV spreads from patients to healthcare workers. Vertical transmission is the transmission of HIV from mother to child.
- Viruses must be able to reach vulnerable cells in the body. This requires significant damage to the skin or deep penetration of the skin. The virus can also be absorbed through vaginal or anal tissue. Scratches, abrasions, and skin stings are not deep enough for infection to occur. HIV cannot pass through intact skin.
- There must be enough virus in the body fluids. Saliva, sweat and tears do not transmit HIV. They either contain HIV-inhibiting enzymes or have a pH that is unfavorable for HIV.
Unless all these conditions are met, HIV infection does not occur at all.
In order for HIV infection to occur, the virus needs certain conditions. It needs the right body fluids, the pathways it can use to enter the body, and the ability to reach vulnerable cells. There also needs to be enough virus present to cause an infection.
What HIV needs to survive
HIV can only survive outside the body under certain conditions:
- Colder temperatures: Outside the body, temperatures below 39 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for HIV infection. HIV does not work well at room temperature or around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. It continues to drop as it reaches and exceeds body temperature or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Ideal pH: The ideal pH for HIV is between 7.0 and 8.0. The ideal pH for HIV is 7.1. Viruses cannot survive pH levels above or below this value.
- Dried blood: HIV can survive in dried blood for up to six days at room temperature. However, the virus concentration in dried blood is usually low or even negligible.
- No UV exposure: HIV survives longer when not exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV light rapidly degrades viral DNA. It also degrades the lipids that make up the viral coat. This makes it unable to attach to other cells and infect them.
If these conditions are met, it is technically possible for HIV to survive outside the body. However, the chances of infection in this case are very small. So far, there have been no documented cases of someone getting infected from a syringe that has been discarded in a public place.
In 2018, a study of acupuncture in children concluded that no HIV cases occurred after exposure to discarded needles.
In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified only one needlestick infection since 1999. The case involved a laboratory researcher studying the live HIV virus.
Getting bodily fluids or saliva into the eyes also doesn’t appear to be a way to spread the virus. There has never been a documented case of anyone contracting HIV in this way.
Can I get HIV from a needlestick injury?
Post-exposure HIV prophylaxis
It is not known how much body fluids are required to develop HIV infection. I don’t know how big the wound needs to be. When in doubt, it’s best to be safe. Go to the nearest emergency room or walk-in clinic.
Treatment is available right away if you have been exposed to HIV. A 28-day course of oral medication called HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can help you avoid infection. For this, treatment needs to be started within 24 to 48 hours of exposure.
If you’ve been concerned about HIV, consider meeting with a specialist. An HIV specialist, psychologist or trained counselor can help.
This is important if your fears are getting in the way of your relationships or quality of life. There are treatments that can help manage your anxiety. This can help improve your overall well-being.
In order for HIV to survive outside the human body, it must have the right temperature, humidity, pH and UV exposure. It’s very rare to get it right.
So far, there have been no documented cases of HIV transmission following exposure to discarded needles. No one has contracted HIV after getting into body fluids or saliva in the eyes.
If you are concerned about possible HIV exposure, go to an emergency room or a walk-in clinic. There are post-exposure treatments that can help prevent infection.
If your worries are getting in the way of your relationships or quality of life, there are experts who can help you manage your anxiety.