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Contact with urine, could I be infected?
Nov 1, 2006

Dr. Conway, This will be kind of an odd question, but I am concerned about HIV contact. I was at a nightclub washroom stall urinating when my cellphone fell out of my hand and into the toilet. The toilet handle was not working, so I could tell that there were several people there who urinated before me wihtout flushing. Without thinking, I quickly stuck my hand into the urine filled toilet to retrieve my phone. I washed my hands thoroughly after the incident, and checked for cuts but did not have any. About a month later, I started having strange soreness in several areas like my legs,ankles, groin and even some sharp pains in a couple of fingertips, and a sporadic dull ache near my left neck lymph area. I never had any marked swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, groin or armpits (I checked several times), nor any fever or sore throat to speak of, but based on some of the things I read online, the sore joints and muscles approximately 1 month after exposure (lasting only a couple of weeks) seemed to coincide with a potential HIV exposure. I understand that urine is considered sterile, and even the trace amounts of HIV in urine would not be able to pass the virus. There was no visible blood or anything in the urine. It has been about 2.5 months since the incident and I have no more soreness, but I'm wondering if you think that my exposure was a high risk exposure, and my earlier symptoms would warrant I go in for an HIV test? If you answer my question, I'll promise to keep my cell phone in my pocket while using the washroom.


Response from Dr. Conway

To my knowledge, there have not been any cases of HIV transmitted from the urine of an infected person to the skin of an unifected one. As you say, the urine is considered a sterile fluid and I would not consider this an exposure with any risk of transmitting HIV. Also, I support your decision to keep your telephone in your pocket when using the washroom.

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