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Blood in saliva, workplace exposure
Jan 30, 2003

Hello there Ryan. I am HIV+, low viral load. A few days ago, I left work in the morning to have some dental work. After the dentist appointment, I returned to work. Throughout the afternoon, some of the dental work on my gums continued to bleed slightly, causing my saliva to be tinged slightly orange/red. I know that saliva alone does not contain enough HIV to be infectuous,and is not normally considered to be airborne. But I am very worried that MY saliva, with a bit of blood, may have been. I am now very concerned and worried that in the course of talking to my co-workers at a distance of a foot or two, that the tiny little saliva spray which normally comes out of one's mouth could have been infectuous to them if they got it in their mouth, nose, or eye. I certainly didn't spit on anybody, kiss anybody, nor bleed undiluted blood on anybody -- I am just talking about the normal little dropletts which sometime happen during conversation. This is a grey area -- I have searched your website and others, but there is not much information regarding this scenario. I am extremely anxious about what I may have done to my co-workers. Should I warn them I may have exposed them? Please help. It can be very stressful as an hiv+ person in an hiv- workplace, and your answer would help me immensely. (I am in a nukmber of support groups for people living with HIV, and one of our most-discussed scenario, despite the knowledge we have acquired out of living with the virus, is our terror of the "accidental exposure" to someone else.

So, bottom line, would my situation be considered occupational exposure to blood, or would it be "casual contact."

Thank you.

Response from Mr. Kull

What you are describing is not an occupational exposure. Occupational exposure generally refers to exposures that occur in a healthcare setting where there is direct exposure to fluids.

HIV is not airbourne. It is not known to be transmitted through talking with another person. Try not to convince yourself that your situation is that much different.

You are at risk for transmitting HIV to another person when you have sex or share injection needles with an uninfected person.

RMK



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