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Toilets, HIV, and STDs

May 3, 1999


Thank you for your wonderful work on this website... I just have one question. I got water from a toilet in my eye and in my mouth (a child splashed it on me). Am I at risk for HIV or other bacterial and viral infections? Any response would be greatly appreciated. God bless you.


About a month ago, my suitemate at college and I realized that everytime we went into the bathroom stall after our other suitemate, there were tiny little white flakes strewn about the seat, and on occasion dried up white fluid on the front. We have started cleaning the seat everytime after she uses it, but are very curious as to what would cause this and could it affect us in any way. We since have noticed that when she enters the stall to urinate it is at high pressure hitting the toilet water very loudly and ending very quickly. Is there an explanation for the flakes on the seat and the excessively high pressure urination?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your questions.

One of the most common myths regarding HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) is the fear of infection from toilets (toilet seats, toilet water, etc.). Put very simply, you cannot get HIV, nor any other STDs, from toilets.

In regard to the question about the toilet water in the eye and mouth, let's face it, this is a very unusual situation. Technically speaking, you may be able to get certain bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections this way (with infections that are found in feces), but the risks for HIV and other STDs would be remote (if any). If you notice any redness or irritation in the eye, or if you have abdominal pains or diarrhea (from an infection that may have been swallowed), please see your doctor to determine the cause. But nobody can predict your chances of getting any fecal infections under such an unusual circumstance.

In regard to the question about the flakes, dried liquid, and urination, without seeing what it is you are talking about, I cannot tell you what it may be. For all you know, those flakes may simply be dried skin. Your roommate would have to see her doctor to determine the cause of whatever it is that she has. But again, you would not be at risk for HIV and other STDs. However, it probably would be a good idea to clean the seat before use, and tactfully, discuss your concerns with your roommate.

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

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