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Exposure to Vomit or Sputum

Sep 5, 2001

I am a nurse who was exposed to vomit or sputum from an end stage AIDS patient which contacted a small area of nonintact skin (less than 1 cm) on my finger. What is the risk of infection from this incident? I took combivir for 4 weeks after the exposure.

Response from Mr. Kull

There is no evidence of a health care worker getting infected with HIV through contact with vomit or sputum. The real risk for transmission is partly determined by the presence of blood in the vomit or sputum; otherwise, those fluids only pose a theoretical risk for infection. Given the fact that these fluids also came into contact with a small area of nonintact skin, your risk for infection is quite small.

See "Caring for someone with AIDS" for more information about safety precautions (


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