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Survial of HIV
Jun 27, 2001

Why do some experts state that the time needed for HIV to be harmless is a few seconds, while others say several minutes are needed? How about other forms od virus that cause other STDs? Do they die in a short time as well?

Response from Ms. Breuer

Quantity of fluid. THat's the reason. But it's the wrong question if what we're trying to do is prevent a new infection. People don't get HIV from environmental surfaces. They get it from direct, intimate contact. Other sexually transmitted diseases are, well, transmitted sexually. How long they survive on environmental surfaces is an interesting question, but the answer doesn't prevent new infections, does it? We have an epidemic resulting in large measure from unprotected sex--anal, oral, vaginal unprotected sex, with an infected person--not from toilet seats or public bathroom sinks. If this makes sense to you, please encourage others who are so focused on the "how long does it live outside the body?" question to refocus on how easily it is passed from one body to another in sexual contact. THAT's our problem.

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