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HIV transmission from a dead body
Nov 16, 2005

Heres a morbid topic. I was reading that undertakers in South Africa were demanding that HIV be listed on the death certificates of those who die of the virus. An industry group for undertakers says that mortuary workers can get infected by fluid seepage from the dead body. Is their concern justified? How long can HIV live inside a dead body?

Thanks, Charlie Seltzer Mendocino County Public Health Dep't Ukiah, CA

Response from Dr. Henry

I reported a case in the NEJM many years ago (letter)where we were able to recover viable HIV virus from a refrigerated body 1-2 days after death so viable HIV can survive for a while (depending on temperature and other conditions) in a dead body.KH



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