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Getting HIV by sharing soap
Oct 30, 1996

Hi, I was wondering HIV/AIDS can be transmitted through sharing a bar of soap that is used in the shower since the soap comes in contact with genital/anal areas. Also, what if one person, who had AIDS, had some cut or lesion, and then washed his hands with a bar of soap. Could someone else using that soap run the risk of getting AIDS this way? Thanks for helping.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question. HIV is not spread through any form of casual contact. This is because the HIV virus will not survive outside the human body for more than a few minutes. Also, within this few minutes, the virus must get directly into the bloodstream in order to infect another person. If it does not get directly into the bloodstream, it will not infect another person.

To more easily understand how HIV is, and is not transmitted, just remember the following:

Blood, pre-cum, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk all contain high concentrations of HIV, and all have been linked to transmission of the virus.

Saliva, tears, sweat, and urine can have the virus in them, but in such small concentrations that nobody has ever been infected through them. However, if any body fluid is visibly contaminated with blood, the risk of transmission exists.

The HIV virus must get into the bloodstream in order to infect you. If it doesn't get into the bloodstream, you will not get the infection. Blood, pre-cum, semen, vaginal secretions, or breast milk must have direct access to your bloodstream in order to infect you. Activities where this can happen include vaginal intercourse (both partners), anal intercourse (both partners), giving oral sex, sharing needles (IV, tattoo etc.), and rarely through receiving a blood transfusion. HIV can also be transmitted from mother to child. HIV is NOT transmitted through any form of casual contact.

In summary, in order for infection to occur, 3 things must happen:

You must be exposed to pre-cum, semen, vaginal secretions, blood, or breast milk.

The virus must get directly into your bloodstream through some fresh cut, open sore, abrasion etc.

Transmission must go directly from 1 person to the other very quickly.....the virus does not survive more than a few minutes outside the body.

If you think about these 3 criteria for transmission, you'll be able to understand why one cannot get HIV through casual contact, and why HIV is actually a difficult disease to get compared to many other types of infections.

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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