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Aug 26, 2003
Hey Dr. Bob,
First off, thank you very much for taking the time to help me out.
My question is... as an asplenic, how much greater is my risk for acquiring HIV (or HEP, or other nasty viral stuff) through the traditional transmission routes? Also, is there any increased risk with more casual contacts (ex. kissing someone)? I'm just wondering if the whole "if there's not a substantial amount of visible blood or other fluid, don't worry about it" rule applies to me... or would a smaller amount infect me? In my paranoia, as of late, I've been envisioning a tiny amount of blood causing transmission and I'd really like some clarification.
Thank you very much, Tim
Response from Dr. Frascino
You are at no greater risk of acquiring HIV as a result of not having a spleen. The spleen is composed of lymphatic tissue (like lymph nodes) and venous sinusoids, which are like big veins that hold and store blood. It acts as a blood filter, because it contains a large number of a certain type of blood cell called a macrophage. The spleen does have immunological functions (again like lymph nodes), but these are not involved in HIV transmission (or HEP) risk. Your risk of HIV transmission from "casual contact" is no different than anyone else's. Yes, the same rules apply to you. Hope that helps.
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