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blood tainted saliva in eye

Jun 11, 2008

Dear Dr. Bob,I know you have stated that your response to questions is not contingent on whether one sends a donation to your foundation or not, however,I will send 200 dollars to your foundation if you will please answer this question for me. No one can give more informative and reassuring answers than you, Dr.Bob. I know you have many demands on your time but I sense you have a big heart and I entreat you to respond. My situation: I was talking recently with someone I do not know well and during our conversation I felt his saliva hit my eye. After our conversation, about a minute later I wiped my eye with my hand. Later, I became concerned that since my eye is a mucus membrane that I may have contracted hiv in this manner. I read on your site that saliva is not considered to be a source of contamination for hiv and that it contains enzymes that actually kill the virus. So I am not concerned about this incident if it was only saliva that hit my eye. However,if for some reason the saliva was mixed with blood there could be the chance of hiv contamination. Since I can find no info on what the chance of getting hiv in this manner,eg.1 in 100, 2 in 500 I ask hypothetically what the figures would be if just blood had hit my eye? Also, I read that hiv is not airborne so if saliva tainted with blood hit my eye how would the airborne effect factor in? Most importantly, is it rare that people would have blood and saliva in their mouths or do alot of people typically have blood tainted saliva in their mouths? I would like to assume that it was only saliva. I hope that you will help me sort things out and help me put this into a realistic perspective. I suppose that people getting spittle in their eyes during conversation is a fairly common happening and if a person could get hiv in this way then most of the world's population would have hiv. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you can offer me some reassurance concerning this. I would also like to start making monthly donations to your foundation which has helped so many,including people like me who need peace of mind. With kindest regards.

Response from Dr. Frascino


First of all, thanks for your kind comments.

Regarding your concerns about HIV acquisition from getting spittle in your eye, your fears are completely unwarranted. You are correct: Saliva that does not contain visible blood would not be considered an HIV risk. Even if your lisping, spluttering, chatty partner did have some blood in his or her mouth from, say, gum disease or recent dental work or whatever, the amount of blood that could have realistically reached the mucous membrane of your eye via spray or spit would be so small that the HIV risk would still be essentially nonexistent. Even when a significant amount of HIV-tainted blood comes into contact with a mucous membrane, the chance of HIV transmission is only 0.09%! So in your case you have a person whose HIV status is unknown who gets a bit of spittle in your eye. And we don't know if there was any blood in the saliva. With all those unknowns and the exceedingly low risk of this mode of transmission, your personal risk becomes so remote that it's essentially nonexistent. To put it in "realistic perspective," your chances of contracting HIV are about as good as Mary Cheney's chances of having a three-way with the Bush Twins or Dick Cheney's chances of recording a public service announcement for PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). I see absolutely no cause for worry whatsoever. If my reassurance doesn't put your (unwarranted) worries to rest, get a single rapid HIV test at the three-month mark to put any residual fears permanently to rest. I certainly don't feel an HIV test is warranted for any reason other than calming your fears, OK? I'm absolutely sure you did not contract HIV from Mr. Spit-Sprayer.

Thank you for your generous gift to the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation ( Your one gift will touch many lives in a very meaningful way. On behalf of those folks struggling with the challenges of AIDS, please accept my heartfelt appreciation. In return I'm sending you my good-luck/good-health karma.

Be well!

Dr. Bob

WOW when you put it like that
nuts med student again...sane this time! Thank you!

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