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Spreading HIV Intentionally
Dec 5, 1996

Dear Mr. Sowadsky, I heard some rumors that in my country there are some people who was diagnosed HIV positive intentionally spread their virus to other people in public places. I heard that they use needles to transmit the virus and the victim are mostly women. Is it possible that the victim might get the virus? Or are there any limitations in the quantity of the virus injected? Can dry blood infects other people if it contacts with other people's bloodstream? Thank you and best regards.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

In many places, purposely spreading HIV (sexually or otherwise) is a crime. If a person does this, they could very well end up in jail or prison. In order for a person to spread HIV to others through needles, their blood would have to be directly injected into another person's bloodstream very quickly. HIV doesn't live long outside the body. Once it's outside the body, the virus begins to die. The longer the virus is outside the body, the weaker it gets, and the less the chance for transmission to occur. The virus is usually dead within minutes once it's outside the body. The more of their blood that the victim of this crime is exposed to, the greater the chance for transmission to occur. Once the blood is dry, the virus is dead, and transmission with HIV will not occur.

Luckily crimes like this are quite rare. And sometimes the criminal may use something that looks like blood (like water with red food coloring) just to scare the victim into thinking they may have been exposed. The majority of persons with HIV are responsible enough not to expose others to the virus. But sadly, there is that small criminal element that will purposely expose others to the virus. That's why some places specifically have laws addressing the issue of purposely exposing others to HIV.

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



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