hiv survival outside of thebody - divergence of opinions
Feb 21, 2012
Hello, I would like to know once and for all how is it with hiv survival ouside the body. On your site there were several responses that the virus dies very quickly when exposed to air and is not contagious whithin few minutes after infected fluid dries. But on the NAM Aidsmap site (http://www.aidsmap.com/Survival-outside-the-body/page/1321278/)I've found information (with references to academic texts) that hiv can survive for 5-6 days outside the body in room temperature and drying does not affect its infectivity. How to explain such differences (few minutes and few days) on two most popular hiv information sites? I'd be grateful for explanation...
Response from Dr. Wohl
This reminds me of those people that tell you about all the horrible germs that live on your kitchen counters and sponges. Sure, you can find these germs here and there but not in the numbers needed to cause disease. Same with HIV. To achieve infection you require the rich conditions including, wait for it, inoculum. That is, a sufficient amount (dose) of virus to actually cause infection.
In the wild blue yonder outside the body, the number of viruses in a drop of blood, let's say, declines. Over a short period the number of viruses drops to very low levels and then to a negligible amount. So, can some lab rat pick out infectious virus from that drop days later, sure. But that does not make that drop infectious - just like we do not get sick from our kitchen sponges even though I can culture a few E. coli and maybe a cold virus or two from its nooks and crannies. DW
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