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Can my kids get HIV from my cousin??
Feb 6, 2013

Hi Mr Glenn,

I was wondering if you let me know how risky this situation was for getting infected with HIV. Basically, my cousin has disclosed to the family that he has HIV. I've become concerned that my kids have been at risk of catching HIV during a spell when he lived with us. I remember my cousin cutting himself in the kitchen and as he walked to the bathroom my son ran and bumped in him and got a bloody smear across the back of his hand. I remember cleaning the blood off my son and that the blood was smeared across a 3 day old burn. It was a friction burn that had caused a deep graze on his knuckle. And my cousins blood was definitely thinly smeared across it. Another situation that has concerned me is that it is very likely that both my kids shared a toothbrush with him as they are forever getting them mixed up with ours. How risky are these situations and should I get them both tested?

Response from Mr. Glenn

There is no risk from anything you're talking about. None.

It is very important to remember that HIV is a relatively hard virus to get and is not transmitted through casual contact.

It is only transmitted when a body fluid carrying HIV comes out of someone's body and goes immediately/directly inside someone else's body. All of that equation needs to happen. In the cases you're talking about, you're missing pieces of the equation.

A 3 day old burn is most certainly not a way for HIV to get inside someone's body. With the toothbrush mix up, you're missing a body fluid, the immediately/direct part, and the way to get inside someone's body (since the mouth is typically not a route for HIV to get inside the body).

I hope all this information helps you with your curiosity. I know that many people have questions about HIV risk so I'm glad that you're reaching out and asking! It is still a tough world for people living with HIV, since the people around them many times are scared of interacting with them normally. That's a real shame since you can't get HIV from simply being around the people you know and love. Your cousin deserves all the support he can get as someone who has to deal with that unfounded fear on a daily basis.

Thanks again for reaching out and getting more information. That's one way to make sure you can be as supportive as you can be to your HIV+ cousin!

Erik



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