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Blood possibly on toilet paper

Jan 11, 2012

Hi Doctors-

I asked the following question yesterday:

I was in a restaurant bathroom in Italy recently-very nice, very small place and very clean otherwise-and there was some blood on the toilet seat. I needed to go, so I wiped it off with plenty of toilet paper. I didn't worry about it at the time as I was pretty sure 1) I didn't get any on my hands in the first place and 2) I didn't have any open wounds-my hands were pretty chapped and sore from the cold but I had a good look and didn't see any bleeding.

Afterwards I started to worry though that I could have gotten a tiny amount of blood on my hands I didn't notice, then perhaps gotten it on the fresh toilet paper I used to wipe myself with after peeing. Again, I didn't see any blood on my hands or the paper. The blood wasn't dry-most of it was under the seat so I guess harder to dry- but no-one was in the bathroom or leaving it right before me so I guess it had been there for at least a few minutes. Do you think there is any risk if I'd gotten a small amount of blood on my hand and transferred it to the paper I wiped with? I didn't see anything on the paper

Which Dr Hightow-Weidman very kindly responded to saying that there was no risk as the virus doesn't survive well outside the body and there was no route for mucous membrane exposure. I have a follow up question/concern which is:

If I did get a small amount of blood on my hand and I transferred it to the fresh toilet paper I used to wipe myself with, would this be a risk or would the fact that it would have to be a tiny amount (I didn't see anything) and would only have access to the outside of my body mean there still wasn't any risk? Is the external opening of the urethra/vagina considered a mucous membrane?

Response from Dr. Hightow-Weidman

Hello again-

Let me try to answer your questions to the best that I can.

1) Mucous membranes are the moist linings of the orifices and internal parts of the body that are in continuity with the external surface. Your vagina and vulva would be considered mucous membranes.

2) In my opinion, the amount to which you would be exposed if some trace amount of blood were unnoticed on the paper would be so small as to pose no significant risk. A spot of red on the roll before use that was not visible to the naked eye is different from "covered with" or "saturated" with fluids/blood. Remember that the amount, duration of exposure, and route of transmission are key in an exposure becoming an infection.

3) If you find your fears persist, I suggest talking with your doctor. The degree of fear you've described seems like it might get in the way of your happiness.

Take care,


HIV risk from fingering and oral sex (possibility of false negative?)
How long can HIV in vaginal fluid stay alive outside the body on your fingers?

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