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URGENT - 4 YEAR OLD - PENIS - TOILET SEAT
Jul 5, 2013

Hello,

I hope that you can respond to my email at the shortest delay. My son and I were using a public swimming pool. He wanted to pass urine. Normally, I am very particular about doing these things myself but this time I allowed the family au pair to take him to the toilet. As she had never taken my son to the toilet before I decided to check up on them. When I entered the toilet I saw that his penis was resting on the part of the toilet just beneath the toilet seat. I think the bottom area of the penis and the scrotum were resting on the toilet seat. The toilet seat was for grown ups and so it was just the way a 4 year old could have used the toilet seat. There seemed to be some white liquid on the seat which could have been water/white colored urine.

I freaked out because I am very particular about hygiene. I have already read that previous blogs have clearly stated that the HIV virus does not survive outside the body for more than a few minutes. Incidentally, after researching I have read that HIV may survive for about half an hour or more. So which is true? Can you give me the latest findings please?

But what about other deadly viruses like Hepatits (C/B etc.). What could he contract if his penis was in contact with the toilet seat? The contact was for around 1 minute.

We were the last people in the swimming and for around 1 hour I dont think there were any other people. So the probability of that toilet having been used during the last 45 mins-1 hour was very low. So any secretions that may have been on the toilet seat were older than 45 mins - I would assume.

What is the best course of action to take in these circumstances? Should he be taking any exposure related treatment?

Thanks, Rob Challeray

Response from Dr. Wohl

We have been getting a lot of questions lately from freaked out moms about kids with potential exposures to yucky stuff. In each case, as in your child's situation, there has been no risk.

HIV is NEVER, EVER, transmitted by a toilet seat. Does not matter how long HIV hangs out in the environment, or if the penis or scrotum was on the bowl rim or even what was in the toilet. It just can't happen. Why? Because you need virus in large amounts delivered to receptive cells.

The seat almost certainly did not have fresh semen lurking there and if it did what are chances there would be HIV present? Plus EVEN if this was the case (which it was not), just touching the surface of your child's genitals would not be likely to lead to infection (which even during actual sex carries odds that range from i in hundreds to 1 in thousands).

I would cast any worry aside as your son's penis will touch plenty of public toilet seats in his life.

DW



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