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Careless Roommate has HIV

Aug 19, 1997

Sometime back a friend of mine with HIV moved in with me, because he had no other place to go. I love him and he's my best friend but he's not always careful. We don't use the same toothbrush or razors, but there have been times that he has used my body scrub, my towels and he's also broken blood and has not been careful about covering his cuts. I always cover mine. I know that it is not easy to get this disease, but there's always that one chance that an accident could happen and I think it's best for him to leave -- he's jobless and has not seen ANY kind of treatment for his illness ANY. He's in denial and I feel so bad for him but at the same time I don't want to contract the virus myself. A while back we had a pet cat that scratched him and me for two weeks before I got rid of it. A few weeks later, I started feeling faint, and my throat and glands were sore. I, of course, knowing the hiv infection symptoms "FREAKED OUT." I did not have risky sex and I was so mad that this could happen. I haven't been tested yet, because I'm scared I may test positive. I'm fine now but I often wonder why I would get sick like that all of a sudden. I don't have swollen glands or lethargy anymore, but I sneeze all the time and my nose is always irritated -- I remember reading something about sneezing that occurs in some hiv people -- this is an obscure reference by the way. thanks Dr.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. As long as you are only having casual contact with your friend, and you are not directly exposed to his blood, you are not at any risk of infection with HIV. The only way you would be at risk, is if he was bleeding, and his blood got directly into your bloodstream within minutes of leaving his body. If you are not directly exposed to his blood, and you are not having sex with him, he is not putting you at any risk of HIV infection. In addition, HIV has never been transmitted through pets. The only time that HIV has been transmitted in a household setting, is when there has been direct blood-to-blood transmission occurring between household members. But for everyday types of casual contact, there should not be any direct blood-to-blood transmission occurring.

If you are concerned about any symptoms that you may be having, please read the Symptoms section, in the Frequently Asked Questions area of this website.

I strongly suggest that you consider going to a support group in your area, to help you cope with your fears of living with a person with HIV. Such support groups are found in many cities. Call your local AIDS Hotline for the location of a support group in your area. Live support groups can even be found online, through some online services, such as America Online (AOL).

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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