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Worry over HIV risk from blood on volleyball "**4th time asking** Blood and breastmilk donation** PLEASE, PLEASE ANSWER"

Feb 24, 2012

Hello~ Please, please answer my question...I am an occasional blood donor, and I am currently breastfeeding my own baby, and getting ready to donate some of my excess milk to a milk bank for premature babies. I would like your opinion on the level of risk of something, as I don't want to donate my milk to little innocent babies if I could put them at risk for anything.

My concern is, I play on a rec volleyball team, and the last two weeks in a row somebody has started bleeding (I think from a hang nail or something like that) and has gotten blood on the volleyball. This last week it happened to the girl I was warming up with, and we continued to use the volleyball before I noticed there was blood on it. When I saw the blood, I looked down at my hands and arms, and there was a blood smudge on my forearm from the volleyball. I went to the bathroom and washed my arms and hands right away, and thought all was fine after that. We started playing our game, and after our first game was over, I noticed my middle knuckle had started bleeding a little (because of very dry, chapped hands, and it cracked open). I wiped off the blood (there wasn't much blood) with some water, and put a band aid on. Then we started our second game, and some of the girls didn't like the ball we were using, so they went and grabbed a different ball to use (and they so happened to grab the ball that still had the blood on it). We played the rest of that game with the bloody ball before I switched out to a different ball for the last game. My concern is, we were all touching that ball, and of course, the blood probably smudged off a little on all of us, before we noticed we were using that ball. I had a band aid over my recently cracked open knuckle, but if my skin were dry and chapped anywhere else, or if I got blood smudge on my hands, fingers, or forearms while playing and then touched my knuckle at all, would that be a risk of getting anything like HIV, Hep C or Hep B? I know HIV can't live long outside the body, but since it was a recent event that took place, the blood was not that old at all. And I know hepatitis can live much longer outside the body.

I did not see any blood get on the backside of my hands (around my knuckles) as the ball would not normally touch that side of my hands, but it has still caused some worry for me, since I am currently breastfeeding my own baby, and am pumping extra milk for premature babies. I would just never want to put my own baby or anybody else's baby at risk.

Please answer my question, so I can feel confident in whether or not I should continue donating milk and/or blood. Thank you so much for your help.

Response from Mr. Glenn

Thanks for you question,

Let me start off by saying that it doesn't sound like you had any risk at all for HIV.

This is for many reasons! -- HIV can't live outside the body for very long at all. Once it's out on that ball it's already begun to die. It needs to enter your body directly/immediately -- It takes a considerable amount of fluid (blood in this case) to transmit HIV, you're talking about at most a smudge -- HIV needs a way to get in your body. A smudge on (the intact skin of) your arm doesn't count at all

As for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, you're right. They can both live for much much longer outside the body, but they still need to find a sufficient way into your body. There also needs to be a significant amount.

There are gonna be a few times in our lives that we come in contact with someone else's blood. Usually this is minor and forgettable. You may want to ask yourself.. is there something about this situation that's making it stand out to you? Reading the description, there's not really anything that's making it stand out to me..

Just as a note, we received your question each of the multiple times you sent it over. We get a fairly large volume of questions, so we do our best to get to as many as we can.

Hope this helps!


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