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Using the latrine in the dark
Nov 13, 2006

I am the safety officer with a US military unit currently serving in southwest asia and I have been approached by several of the soldiers concerned about the chances of getting HIV by using the latrines. We have all been told that you cannot get HIV from toilet seats, but many times we have to use light discipline even while taking care of business and you never really know what you are sitting in or what you have wiped with. One soldier in particular feared he had wiped with some used toilet paper that might have had feces already on it and he was worried that it could enter through his anus. What are the chances of contracting HIV from wiping with used toilet paper? Also, even if he had wiped with toilet paper that had feces from a HIV positive individual on it, what are the chances of it entering through the anal opening?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Safety Officer,

Well, so long as the business the soldiers are taking care of in those light-disciplined latrines doesn't include unsafe sex with HIV-positive don't-ask-don't-tellers, your boys have absolutely nothing to worry about. HIV cannot be transmitted by tears, saliva, sputum, sweat, urine, vomitus, nasal mucous or feces, unless they contain visible blood, OK?

Dr. Bob



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