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Infectiousness of HIV outside Body

Oct 7, 2012

I am a regular reader of Safe Sex & HIV Prevention. In your post question & answer forum you have stated that HIV begin to die once it leaves the body and with in a minutes time the virus would be unable to infect other person. So does it means 60 seconds after leaving the body HIV would be unable to infect another one though the body fluid is wet?

Response from Mr. Cordova

Hi there:

This is a great question. Thanks for writing in. Many factors influence the likelihood of whether or not HIV transmission could occur. When discussing transmission of HIV, it's important to talk about probability vs possibility.

The moment HIV leaves the human body it starts to die. Different environmental factors such as exposure to air, friction, temperature, and the fact that bodily fluids are wet, all factor into HIV's degradation factor. The fact that bodily fluids are wet would help stabilize the virus. Air, temperature, and friction would accelerate the neutralization of the virus. In lab tests, using a precisely controlled environment, scientists have been able to keep the virus alive outside of the human body for more than a minute. An environment like that does not exist outside of the lab.

Bottom line: While the moisture content of bodily fluids would slow down the degradation of the virus outside of the human body, it's not enough to facilitate transmission outside of that 60 second window. I hope this helps.

In health,


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