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Follow up question answered by Shannon
Dec 26, 2012

Hi Shannon,

I am asking a follow-up question to my last question attached below. I asked you this follow-up question previously; however, never received a response. So I will list my questions as followed: 1) Can you please explain to me how the situation below would not be a risk if the basin water had vaginal fluids in it and the water got under my vinyl/latex glove and reached my cut (it was like a knick/small cut on the top of my middle finger)? 2) Would it make a difference in the type of gloves that I had on? I think they were vinyl gloves/latex gloves? Some kind of healthcare gloves, as I work in a nursing home. 3) Can you please explain to me why hiv is not trasmitted in bath water, as it seems to me like it would be if there were hiv fluids in the water, such as semen or vaginal fluids and a negative person came in contact with these fluids with a cut? 4) It was a basin bath so also the volume of water was smaller, so would that make a difference? 5) I am sorry for continually asking questions, but I am a hipochondriac and I have an extreme fear about this disease and the only reason I was worried was because the gloves can be flimsy sometimes and I have had water leak through the gloves before. After re-playing the situation in my head, I think I understand why it is not trasmitted this way, but I would like your expertise to better understand, as before you answered and said that you could not get hiv this way. I am asking because I still don't fully understand why bath water isn't a risk for trasmission. The reasons I think I am being irrational is because when I think about the situation, I think I just put my hand in the water once to grab the wash cloth, so therefore, I wasn't continually putting my hand in the water for the water to leak through the gloves. Also, I wasn't bleeding, as I would have noticed before I put the gloves on. Additionally, I did a water test on one of the gloves at work by putting my gloved hand under a faucet and my hand in a sink of water to simulate the basin and no water leaked through. 6) Lastly, apparently contact has to be immediately/directly and this doesn't seem like direct contact to me, as the wash cloth touched her vagina (not sure if any vaginal fluids were even on the wash cloth; if there were any, there probably wasn't much), then was placed in the water, and then I emptied it a few minutes later. This seems very indirect to me. Can you please help clarify this, as the only way I believe you can get hiv from vaginal fluids directly is from fingering/having penetrative sex. Sorry, for such a long question, but I just wanted all these things clarified. I am going to look into going to a counselor about my fears about this disease, as it is causing me extreme anxiety and I can't feel like this everytime I come in contact with this disease. I followed the right precautions by wearing gloves, but I keep thinking of the what ifs, if the water did leak through. Thank you so much!! You're great!! :)

Previous question that you answered:

I am a healthcare worker and an HIV patient of mine was giving herself a basin bath. I did not give her a bath, as she was able to do it herself and I was standing at least 5 feet away from her. However, I did empty the basin water and to be safe, I think I put my hand in the basin water to grab the wash cloth before emptying the basin, so that water did not splash in my face from the wash cloth falling out. Anyways, I had latex gloves on; however, later I noticed I had a paper like cut on my middle finger. What if the water leaked through the gloves and her vaginal fluids were in the water from washing her private areas and the water hit my cut? Am I at risk, I am so worried and am a hipochondriac. I have read posts similar to this with a woman coming in contact with bloody basin water and she had a paper like cut and was worried that the bloody water had went under her gloves and reached the cut and Dr. Bob responded and said that he would not have recommended PEP and it wasn't a real risk. I keep hearing that you can't get hiv from bath water and the virus dies once it hits the air and the water would dilute these fluids anyway. I was also thinking that even if there were vaginal fluids in the water, there probably wouldn't be much unless she vigorously washed the area. Please answer, I keep worrying and I think I'm being irrational, as I had latex gloves on.

Response from Ms. Southall

Hi Let me try and explain again to you that there is no risk for transmission. 1. Water will increase the time for HIV to die once it is outside of the body, it will dilute it as well as there being soap present it will die immediately. 2. You had gloves on it doesn't matter what type as long as they were latex, all medical gloves are made of latex or a very similar material and will protect you. The reason the water decreases the risk of HIV transmission is again because of the dilution that will occur and that HIV dies once it is outside of the body. The volume of the water does not make a difference.

Your work in health care and I know you have heard the importance of washing your hands as this is the perfect way of decreasing the spread of germs. The same goes with HIV, soap and water!

So, again rest assured that this is not a way for HIV transmission to occur. And seriously if you are going to work in the health care field you need to work on your own mental health and work on your hypochondria. One of the biggest things that we as people living with HIV already deal with a lot of stigma and to have someone who is helping to take care of this have this extreme fear that you have only adds to that stigma for us. So please take a look at what you are doing and make sure you are in the right field.



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