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How long does HIV live outside the body?
Aug 21, 1996

Recently I bought a fruit juice at a health food store. As the woman put the lid on the drink I noticed she had what looked like an open scrape, possibly fresh, on her finger. There may have been blood on it but there is no way for me to know since the drink was red. My question is this: how long does HIV live outside the body? I have heard that it lasts just a few seconds in the air. What about in a drink? What are my risks since I (stupidly) drank the juice? I did not have any cuts, abrasions or sores in my mouth. Thanks a lot. I'm really nervous.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

Based on what you stated in your question, it sounds as if you are at little, if any, risk of infection with HIV. Since there was no visible blood present, you would not be at risk. If blood were present on her hands, it would be very likely you would have seen the blood. You have to be exposed directly to her blood in order to get infected. Also, HIV will not live outside the body for more than a few minutes. The longer it is outside the body, the weaker it gets, and the less the chance of transmission. So, quite honestly, the chances that blood from the woman got into your drink, and then into your bloodstream are quite unlikely, especially since you did not see blood present on her hands.

If you want to get tested for peace of mind, you need to wait 6 months before getting an HIV antibody test. But based on what you told me here, your chances of exposure and infection are very unlikely.

If you have further questions, please e-mail me at "nvhotline@aol.com" or call me at 1-800-842-AIDS.



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