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Blood on food
Oct 31, 2001

Dear Ryan, Please answer this question. Is there any risk if you accidentally eat food that has a stain of blood on it? I noticed a red stain (it seemed to be blood) on a piece of fruit that I was eating and I am concerned that I may have eaten and swallowed part of that stain of blood. The fruit had been bought at the supermarket some 50 to 52 hours before. Will the virus be dead by then?

Response from Mr. Kull

Based on the biological and epidemiological knowledge of HIV and its transmission, there is no likelihood of transmission in your case. Here's the case:

1) It's important to remember that HIV is only known to be transmitted through the following three ways:

Sexual contact: anal, vaginal, and oral sex

Blood-to-blood contact: sharing injection needles, occupational exposures, blood transfusions (which is rare in the U.S.)

Mother-to-infant: either through delivery or during breast feeding

If you are not engaging in any of these activities, then the odds of transmission are theoretical only.

2) HIV does not survive in the environment long enough to cause transmission through contact outside of the above three categories. This is why we don't see transmission through contact with inanimate objects and other forms of casual contact (like eating food, sharing drinking glasses, using public restrooms, etc.). Studies of families living with an HIV infected person have demonstrated this. See "Survival of HIV in the Environment" (http://www.thebody.com/cdc/survival.html) for more information.

RMK



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