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HIV Infection Risks??
Oct 23, 1996

Please comment on some issues that I am concerned about. What is the risk of HIV infection thru getting a hair cut? If it exists, what would be expected level of preventative practices for hair care workers? What is the risk of infection thru eating out, now that we know that even sweat and tears can contain HIV virus? What is the risk of infection using kitchens and bathrooms cleaned by cleaning workers? How does one evaluate and approach fears of infection through everyday life? How can counseling help with questions that keep arising? How does one find......really good ones who will work? Thank you very much in advance for your valuable help.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your questions. HIV is NOT transmitted through any form of casual contact, including getting a haircut, working in a kitchen, using bathrooms etc. Let me review with you how HIV is, and is not, transmitted.

Blood, pre-cum, semen, vaginal secretions, and breastmilk 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 breastmilk 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 breastmilk.

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.

So, based on the 15+ years of data that we have on HIV transmission, we know that HIV will not be transmitted through everyday casual contact. This is a well established scientific fact. So you should not have any fears of getting infected with HIV through everyday casual contact with the people around you. 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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