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sharing food w/HIV+ person
Mar 28, 2002

A few weeks ago, an HIV positive friend offered to share a can of soda with me. I hesitated, but in the end did. He seemed hurt that I would hesitate, given that we both know HIV transmission is extremely low---if not impossible---given this activity. Was I right to hesitate? Should he not have offered? I understand that this question is unlike many others here, but I guess I'm really asking if there is any real chance of HIV exposure if exposed to an HIV+ person's saliva.

Response from Mr. Kull

There is no evidence whatsoever that people are infected through contact with an HIV infected person's saliva. If HIV could be transmitted through saliva, we would be looking at a much, much larger epidemic. The concentrations of HIV in saliva are very small, and noninfectious.

1) HIV is only known to be transmitted in three ways: sexual transmission, blood-to-blood contact (injection needles and health care settings), and from mother to infant. Other routes of transmission are theoretical only. See Can I get HIV from casual contact?.

2) HIV does not survive long enough in the environment to pose a real risk through contact of this sort. Scientists found that drying fluids containing very high concentrations of HIV(concentrations that are not normally encountered in day-to-day life) reduced the number of infectious virus by 90% to 99%. It is safe to say, based on these laboratory studies, that HIV would become uninfectious realitively quickly when exposed to the environment, making transmission through indirect contact with another person's fluids remote. See Survival of HIV in the Environment for more information.

RMK



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