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HIV From Hiking?

Aug 12, 2016

I was recently hiking with a friend who is HIV+. We had to climb up an extremely steep hill with trees on it. The only thing I was paying attention to was not falling or sliding down so when I asked for help and he offered his arm and hand several times, I didn't notice he had cuts and was bleeding on his forearm. He later showed them to me. I too had cuts (smaller than his) on my right hand and left foot. I didn't notice blood on me but as I said, I was focused on not falling. Is there a possibility of my becoming infected?

Response from Mr. Jacobs

It sounds your experiences in the wild were filled with more adventure than you expected! Certainly, any rigorous physical activities in life can have unexpected obstacles, some of which can include scraping and bleeding.

The good news is that HIV is not transmitted through simple skin contact, and does not survive long outside the body. It must have a direct route of transmission from one person's body into the mucous membranes of another, hence why sexual transmission and IV drug transmission are the more common routes between adults. Simply having contact with another person's blood while you have some scrapes makes transmission extremely unlikely.

Additionally, if a person living with HIV is on medication treatment, and has an undetectable viral load, then their risk of transmitting HIV is nearly zero, even if there is an exposure. If you have any concerns, you may want to ask your friend if he is taking HIV medications. And of course, getting yourself tested is always the best way to know your own HIV status.

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