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Transmission of HIV during acute infection
Oct 6, 2000

I read somewhere that Hepatitis B is extremely infectious approx. 100 times more than HIV mainly because the viral load is higher. Does that imply that during acute HIV infection (with a viral load maybe 1000 times higher than later on), HIV may be as infectious as Hepatitis B. When talking about the risk of infecting people through casual every day (non-sexual) contact, you always talk about people that are known to have HIV that means they are most likely not in the stage of acute infection. Would it be likely for someone having acute HIV infection to pass on the virus to somebody else e.g. by using the same bathroom and without knowing it contaminating the sink/soap/water tap etc. with small amounts of blood e.g. during shaving or brushing ones teeth. I really appreciate your answer.

Response from Mr. Kull

It is believed that an HIV infected person is more infectious when their viral load is higher. Viral load is highest during primary infection/acute retroviral syndrome and at end-stage disease/AIDS. I'm not aware of any information that specifically states when HIV is as infectious as Hepatitis B Virus. This belief of different stages of infectivity doesn't change the conclusive evidence that HIV is not spread to others through casual contact. Hepatitis B Virus is not spread casually either. It is never recommended that your bloodstream or mucous membranes come into contact with fresh blood.

Early detection is important so that people can be educated on early treatment options and protect their sexual and needle-sharing partners from infection.

RMK



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