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Is urine safe?
Jul 25, 2000

I recently saw a sign, next to several others from AIDS prevention organizations, in a restroom of a bar in San Francisco that stated in block letters that "URINE IS STERILE." I was in a rush and did not read the whole sign. Thinking back to those words, though, I'm puzzled: Does it mean that there is no risk of contracting HIV (or other diseases) from ingesting another person's urine? ANd what is the risk of so-called water sports for someone who is already positive?

Response from Dr. Pavia

Good question, and I would also post this to the safe sex forum. Urine is usually free of bacteria, hence it is considered sterile. It is not considered a high risk fluid in that there has not been much evidence of virus in urine. Thus, contact of urine on skin is not much risk. Ingesting urine may not be quite as safe. The issue with "water sports" gets a little more complicated. If someone has gonorrhea or chlamydia, their urine may be infected and that would pose a risk to you, even if you are already HIV positive.

Hope this helps.

Andrew T. Pavia, M.D.



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