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HIV life outside of body
Jun 6, 2001

How long can the HIV virus live outside of the body when exposed to air? As a teacher, I often get questions related to 'if someone who is HIV infected is preparing food and they cut themselves, and there was some blood on that harmful? What students really want to know is how long can the virus live outside of the body.

Response from Dr. Little

The easy answer is that HIV requires living cells to persist - so exposure to air will typically result in cell death within hours. The only exception to this is in the case where a larger volume of blood is spilled, then the cells in the center of the pool will be preserved for a longer period of time. But the general answer to the typical small cut and blood contact is that the virus survives very poorly outside the body and is probably of minimal risk as soon as the blood dries (minutes to hours depending on the volume of the spill or cut).

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