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Hibachi Hell

Jan 17, 2010

Dr. Bob, I'm kind of freaking out right now. I just got back from a restaurant where they cook food in front of you & stuff. The chef cut himself. I'm not sure if any blood got onto the food. If it did, is there any risk? Everyone I was at the table with is pretty concerned. We would all appreciate an answer from an expert like you. Also, we love what you do & will all be making a donation to your foundation. Thank you so much!

Response from Dr. Frascino


Those flying knives at the Japanese steakhouse can indeed be a health hazard. I remember working in an emergency room and having a well-dressed businessman, who was dining at one such establishment, be rushed in with a knife as big as a machete sticking out of his shoulder! (As we fixed him up, he informed me he was a lawyer and intended to sue. He was quite confident that by the time the stitches were ready to be removed, he would "own that damn restaurant!"

Your HIV-acquisition risk is so remote it's essentially nonexistent. The clumsy chef is most likely not "virally enhanced." Plus, HIV does not do well outside the body and certainly not on a hot hibachi! Neither worry nor HIV testing is warranted. See below.

Thanks for your donation to The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation ( It's warmly appreciated.

Be well. Stay well.

Dr. Bob

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

from U.C can you please answer thank you

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