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A question regarding HIV transmission risk (mere paranoia?)

Jan 15, 2010

Dear Dr. Frascino,

I have a question regarding potential HIV exposure. My roommate is HIV positive, and I usually have no problem with it (bathroom sharing etc.). However, I am a bit leery sometimes regarding food preparation: Today, while grating parmesane for spaghetti carbonara, he cut himself quite severely. He bled, bandaged the wound, and cleaned up. However, I was wondering whether any blood which might have made it into the food could pose an HIV transmission risk due to open sores in the mouth and so on.

I myself doubt it, since more than 15 minutes passed from the incident to the meal being finished and also because the parmesane/egg mixture is lightly heated during preparation. Still, I would ask what, if any, transmission risk exists, for peace of mind.

I hope You will find the time to answer my question. However, I will donate to your foundation regardless. A donation to a worthy cause should not be conditional.

Postscript: I chose to turn to you instead of the roommate for obvious reasons. He is burdened enough without my fears, justified or not, worsening the situation.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Concerns similar to yours are quite common in this forum. (Have a look in the archives!) The answer is invariably the same: no risk. Blood in the marinara (or carbonara) or even some special sauce on your Big Mac is not an HIV risk. Unless you're Dracula and sucking massive amounts of blood directly from the neck of an HIVer, you should't worry about contracting HIV while dining at a dinner party or noshing at a trendy eatery.

Thanks for your tax-deductible donation to The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (

Be well. Stay well. Bon Appétit!

Dr. Bob

Dr. Monster, I think you made a mistake.
URGENT! Is PEP recommended for my case? (exposure happened an hour ago)

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