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potential risk from water splash
Jun 9, 2012

Hi Doctor,

Please, please answer my question as i am a little ocd about this thing

I am very very anxious about this situation that I have. So, a few days ago I had to use a public restroom. It looked clean, but I do not remember looking inside the toilet bowl for any blood, feces or semen. I was sitting down on the seat and as I was doing my thing, I felt a backsplash directly onto my anal opening. I immediately wiped it with plain toilet paper as I didn't have anything else to disinfect it. Anyway, I felt disgusting. So, my concern is what if there was hiv positive semen or blood from someone before me, maybe 5 min ago and that same fluid came into contact with my rectum and the mucous membrane? (Assuming that person was hiv positive) Am I at a risk of infection? Does it matter if I had cuts or fissures on my rectum? Thanks K from Europe

Response from Dr. Wohl

There is no risk here, K from Europe. Infection with HIV requires a number of specific conditions to be met including a sufficient amount of virus (inoculum) getting to target cells which can then be used to propagate the replication of HIV.

There would be insufficient inoculum in the backslash you describe even if the fantastical conditions of the toilet you imagine were real. Further, splash of said incoculum on the external anus is unlikely efficient for HIV transmission. It is the inner lining of the rectum (where no toilet water should have ventured) that contains the cells that are bull's eyes for HIV.

No one, ever, got HIV from a toilet. HIV is transmitted by people to people, either through sex or direct sharing of blood. It is not spread by inanimate objects to people.

DW



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