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Please can you help?
Nov 17, 2000

whilst flying home from the U.K. the other day I found that I had to use the toilet. on lifting up the toilet seat I found that a quantity of dry blood had been smeared on the under side of the seat. I don't know whether I touched any or not. I immediately washed my hands, but as you probably know the water in an aircraft only runs for a short time and I was not able to give them the kind of thorough cleaning I would have liked to. Now I have become obsessed with the fact that I may have contaminated every thing I touched that day with the HIV/AIDS virus such as my money, passport, credit cards, baggage, clothes Etc. Plus I ate a bread roll with my hands latter on in the flight. Plus I smoked a couple of cigarettes before I got home. Is there any chance I could have contaminated anything I touched in this way and is it safe to handle these things without having to resort to washing my hands in the future? or worrying that I may be spreading the virus further? It is making my whole life a misery and upsetting my family to the point that I am finding it very difficult to cope. Please can you help. Respectfully yours .

Response from Ms. Gabriel

First, the basics. HIV can be transmitted by four body fluids: blood, semen, vaginal fluids & breast milk. One of these fluids has to come into contact with your blood stream in order to cause an infection. This can happen by (1)having unprotected sex with an infected partner; (2)sharing contaminated needles; (3)receiving infected blood; or (4)being born to an infected mother. That said, ask yourself the this question: "Did one of the four body fluids come into contact with my blood stream?" HIV does not last outside the body - exposure to heat, light and air will all kill it. You were smart to wash your hands -- not because of HIV, but because of all of those other nasty germs that cause colds, flus and other annoying conditions.

I know it's not the question you asked, but your biggest concern in that scenario is not anything you did or touched in the restroom. It's the cigarettes.

Lynne Gabriel



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