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Insect bites

Jul 16, 1997

I've read a lot of articles about possible transmission from insect bites. Most of them seem to concentrate on mosquitos. What is the possibility of transmission from other biting insects like ants (which bite in defense, so could bite 2 people within a few minutes), or black flies (which also sometimes go directly from one person to another)?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. HIV has never been transmitted through any insect vector. It has never been transmitted through mosquitoes, flies, ticks, ants, nor any other insect. HIV simply does not survive in any insect.

There is a lot of data showing that the patterns of disease spread from diseases known to be transmitted from insects, is totally different from disease spread patterns of HIV. For example, diseases like Malaria (transmitted by mosquitoes), Lyme Disease (transmitted by ticks), African Trypanosomiasis (transmitted by Tse Tse Flies), and other insect spread diseases, strike anyone living in a given area who are exposed to those insects. If HIV were transmitted by any insect, its patterns of spread would be the same as diseases known to be transmitted by insects, like those mentioned above. Insect-borne diseases infect any person in a given area, especially persons who are directly exposed to those insects. HIV on the other hand does NOT infect anyone in a given area exposed to insects. Rather, it infects persons engaging in specific risky activities (sexual contact, needle-sharing etc.). So the pattern of spread of insect-borne diseases is totally different from the pattern of spread of HIV.

In summary, there is no evidence that HIV is transmitted by any type of insect. For related questions, see the posts, "Does Serum thru mosquote bite transfer aids?", and "transmittal thru mosquitos."

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

Greg Louganis
Needle Stick on Beach

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