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HIV counselor
Jan 20, 2009

I help counsel and find shelters for those who are infected with HIV and have little to no income. I had one question..

I recently shook hands with a man whom I help. He is HIV Positive and he had terribly dry and peeling hands. Let's just say he had blood from the peeling hands and I shook his hand. Is there any risk of infection. I'm pretty sure I didn't have open bleeing cuts on my hand, but what about a non bleeding cut? Or do we both have to have actively bleeding wounds to contract?

I feel like I should already know this, but I shamefully don't. I don't want to ask my supervisor in fear that he may think I don't know my job. Please help me out.

Many archives say you can't contract HIV from handshakes, but I still wonder? Is a handshake not intimate enough of an act, or just very unlikely that two people bleeding would give hand shakes?

And when it says that you have to have a bleeding wound, what constitutes as a "wound"? Is a small scratch considered a wound? Or high risk?

I would like to leave a donation. Is there any way I can send it over the internet? Like paypal? Thanks again. Good karma and love to you.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Counselor,

The HIV-transmission/acquisition risk would involve direct fresh blood-to-fresh blood contact. Shaking hands with someone who has dry, peeling hands is not an HIV risk, even if you had some non-bleeding healing cuts or wounds. A wound, technically speaking, is non-intact skin. For instance, a gun shot to the chest would definitely create a wound. Minor cuts and scrapes that are scabbed over or healing are not considered to be a risk for HIV.

Regarding donations to the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation, yes, the foundation gratefully accepts all forms of donations, including PayPal, credit cards, checks, direct wire transfers, cashier's checks, cash, diamond mines, used spaceships, you name it. Just click on the donate tab on the foundation's Web site, www.concertedeffort.org for further details.

Be well and thank you for your invaluable service to those infected with HIV.

Dr. Bob



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