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Human Bite & HIV
Mar 2, 2003

Dear Dr. Ryan, I have posted my question almost over 12 times, I did not get any response. This is very serious. A transexual person with HIV+ bite me with his teeth on my thumb on Dec 25/02. My thumb's skin was broken very badly, it was bleeding. I did not see if he had any blood inside his mouth cos it was very dark.I did not have any sex with him. I went to the hospital right after and they gave me INDENVIR, AZT & 3TC for one week, though they told me to take for a month for better result. I stopped taking the medication after a week cos I was having kidney problems and having blood in my urine. Could you please for god sake tell me what are the chances for me to get HIV from the bite when I know that he is HIV+. Please kindly answer my question for god sake.....

Response from Mr. Kull

It's understandable that you are concerned about this encounter, but I want to start off by saying that your exposure is not a likely route for HIV transmission. People are primarily infected through vaginal and anal sex.

The person who is doing the biting is at more risk for infection than the person being bitten. The person doing the biting may come into contact with infected blood, which is highly infectious, as a result of the activity. The person who is being bitten is likely to come into contact with saliva, which is not known to transmit HIV. So the risk of transmission through being bitten is theoretical only, and highly unlikely.

There is at lest one documented case of HIV transmission occuring through an uninfected person being bitten by an HIV infected person. It was clear that the person doing the biting had their own blood in their mouth. Blood is known to transmit HIV; saliva is not. This case could actually be considered blood-to-blood transmission and not transmission through the biting alone.

The best you can do at this point is get an antibody test three or more months after the exposure, just to be sure. Try not to work up your anxiety by trying to guess whether or not there was blood in his mouth; unless you have reason to believe there was, why not go with the more likely scenario (that there wasn't blood present)?

Sorry I couldn't get to your question sooner--hope this helps!

RMK



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