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Possible Exposure
Jun 11, 2001

Hi Doc. Last year I tested negative for HIV for some blood test for my insurance company. About three months later, I went on vacation with some friends of mine and I accidently used one of my friends toothbrushes. I don't what his status is. So I am wondering what are my chances/risks of being exposed if I used their toothbrush. Thanks.

Response from Mr. Kull

Even though it is not recommended that HIV negative individuals share a toothbrush with an HIV positive person, the risk of HIV transmission through a toothbrush is quite low.

It is not recommended that HIV positive individuals share their toothbrushes or razors because both shaving and brushing can cause bleeding, even if it is not visible, and blood contains high concentrations of virus. However, unless your friend was HIV positive, there was blood on the toothbrush, AND you used it shortly after your friend used it, then it is unlikely that you were infected. Even if all of those factors were met, there is no specific evidence that sharing toothbrushes has ever caused transmission. One possible explanation is that HIV does not survive long in the environment (see "Survival of HIV in the Environment: http://www.thebody.com/cdc/survival.html).

RMK



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