Aug 29, 2001
Dear Mr Kull, I would like to ask you a question about HIV transmission that is worrying me slightly. I am getting married in two weeks and both my boyfriend and I have had HIV tests, both negative. There is this incident that worries me slightly - while I was using a public toilet and the inside of my underwear (i.e. the part that covers the peri-vaginal area) came in contact with the toilet seat). I had not paid much attention to the toilet seat before using it. When I finished using the toilet (i.e after my underwear had touched it) I could not notice any stain on the seat. My underwear was black, so it would have been difficult to notice any stain on it. I proceeded to put on my underwear. I would like to know if there is any risk for HIV transmission. I have asked a Health Advisor and they said that there was no risk at all, but I would like to have a confirmation to put it completely out of my mind. Yours grateful.
Response from Mr. Kull
The Health Advisor you spoke with sounds wise. HIV is not transmitted by using a toilet seat or through any other forms of casual contact. The odds of such an event ocurring are astronomically low (partly because HIV does not survive in the environment very long: see http://thebody.com/cdc/survival.html). HIV is primarily spread through unprotected vaginal and anal sex, sharing injection needles, and from mother to infant.
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