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Risk in hot tubs again

Mar 3, 1997

Hi, rick! Sorry to trouble you again, but reading some of the recent questions about the survival of HIV outside the body, I ask you permission to think that you might be neglecting the significancy of the research carried out by the CDC-USA. Can't you imagine that in a promiscous gay sauna, for instance, a small hot tub filled with a non-renewed water may contain a marked amount of semen and pre-cum dilluted to an extend comparable to the concentration used in the CDC study? Or am I missing anything else? By the way, the environment for the virus in a hot tub water would not ever dry it, of course, what could certainly lead to transmission if cuts or abrasions happened to be present on someone's mucous membrane, which is common. It is still very possible to have people masturbating under the water, releasing their pre-cums and sperms that go on stocking there for many hours. Some of them may even dip their dirty genitals in the same water after performing sexual activities. If no previous reports have not been a vailable till today, it may be due to the fact that almost everybody going to gay saunas may not engage in only one kind of risky activity, so that they would be unable to conffirm how they actually got infected. Moreover, do you know of any other diseases that may be acquired this way? I am almost about to receive my test result after 5 months. Thus, if it comes out positive now, or one month later, I will be the first person in the world to assuredly claim being infected by HIV from a hot tub. I will never use these services any longer. It takes a long time I've been experiencing lots of symptoms related to my sexual health, which made me spend lots of money as well. If I were you, I would not encourage people to underestimate the HIV potentials outside the body. You know that a lot of different circumstances are possible to occur and even though it may not be statistically significant from a researcher's viewpoint, it's extremly pitiful and sorry for those very few infected ones behind the "insignificant" percentuals. Thanks again! I have a great respect for you and your work and that's why I look foward to receiving your answer.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. If you re-read the questions regarding survival of HIV outside the body ("How long does HIV survive outside the body?", and "Can I get HIV from handling rented adult video tapes?"), you will note that the CDC (and other) studies used concentrations of the HIV virus that were over 100,000 times higher than that found in nature. HIV has never been seen in these extremely high concentrations anywhere in nature. Realistically, the chances of HIV in a hot tub going to concentrations 100,000 times higher than that found in the human body, are virtually impossible under natural conditions (including hot tubs).

You must also remember that the HIV virus has evolved to live ONLY inside the human body. It cannot survive outside the human body under any natural conditions, wet or dry. But a dry environment is one condition that the virus cannot survive in. So even in a wet environment outside the human body, the virus will still not survive. This includes hot tubs, swimming pools, toilets, sewage etc. etc. In a hot tub (and swimming pools too), the water greatly dilutes the virus, making the chances of it getting into a persons bloodstream within minutes, even more unlikely. If HIV were able to survive in water, it would have transmission patterns similar to that of known waterborne diseases. However, all the epidemiological data over the past 15+ years have shown that the patterns of spread of HIV are radically different from diseases known to be transmitted in water.

In the over 15 years that we have been studying HIV transmission worldwide, we have not had a single case of HIV transmission through casual contact. When talking about transmission risks for HIV, I talk about realistic risks, not theoretical ones. Theoretically, anything in this world is possible. We must stick with realistic risks, based on empirical, tangible, scientific data. If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

Significant Exposure - Health Care Workers

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