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CDC reply about transmission of HIV via oral route
May 26, 2011

Hi Dr Frascino I have asked CDC about the risk of HIV transmission via the oral route recently and it seems there are some cases of HIV transmission via food. Here is what they replied:

Please note that a recent CDC study shows a link between HIV and pre-chewed food. In this study, CDC looked at 3 babies infected with HIV. All 3 children had repeated negative HIV tests before testing positive later. The cases show that the babies were infected with HIV after eating food that was pre-chewed by a caregiver who had HIV.

The first case occurred in Miami. In this case, a 15-month-old African-American boy was diagnosed with HIV in 1993. His aunt was infected with HIV and pre-chewed food for the boy when he was between the ages of 9 and 14 months.

The second case was also in Miami. It involved a 3-year-old Caribbean-American boy. He was diagnosed in 1995 after his HIV-infected mother had pre-chewed his food.

Doctors guessed there was a link between pre-chewing food and the spread of HIV after finding out about these cases, but couldn't prove it.

In 2004 a third case was reported. A 9-month-old African-American girl in Memphis was diagnosed with HIV. The mother had been pre-chewing the girl's food for about 5 months.

While all 3 cases show a possible connection, 2 of the cases show a strong link between pre-chewing and the spread of HIV. This way of spreading HIV hasn't been reported in the past. The caregivers in the first and third cases were reported to have bleeding gums while pre-chewing food for the infants. It's thought that this is how the virus was passed on to the infants.

The risk of passing HIV to infants by pre-chewing food needs to be studied in more detail.

So it seems there is still a risk of HIV transmission by sharing food with patients with AIDS; what's your view on this?

Cheers, John

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi, John.

My view hasn't changed since the last time I addressed this concern. The risk doesn't apply to adults (or the vast majority of babies either). See link below.

Dr. Bob

pre-chewed food



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