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Any risk from swimming in saltwater (Boston Harbor)?
Jun 25, 2001

My organization is planning a fund-raising a September Triathlon that will include a swim in Boston Harbor. We expect that some HIV+ persons will participate in the swim.

Boston Harbor is a saltwater bay with freshwater runoff. I have heard that after major rainstorms the coliform levels can sometimes become high.

I have a few related questions: 1) Do generally healthy people living with HIV infection need to take any special precautions when swimming in saltwater? 2)Do coliform infections present any special hazards for people living with HIV? 3)Are other microbes, such as cryptosporidiosis, also present in saltwater? (Everything I've read talks about crypto in pools, lakes, rivers, and drinking water but never saltwater.) If so, are any special precautions needed for those?

Thanks for your help!

Response from Dr. Feinberg

There are no special precautions necessary for swimming in saltwater. Coliform bacteria pose a hazard to all swimmers, not just HIV+s. Cryptosporidium is indeed an organism found in fresh water and poses no hazard for swimming in salt water.

I commend you for your thoughtfulness and preparation. Good luck with your event!

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