The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
Ask the Experts About

Workplace and Insurance IssuesWorkplace and Insurance Issues
Rollover images to visit our other forums!
  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary

fresh wound
Aug 28, 2001

I have noticed that the consensus is that hiv+ bodily fluids like blood have to come in contact with a mucous membrane, broken skin, or an actual puncture with a contaminated sharp to transmit the virus. My question is, what exactly constitutes an open wound or broken skin? When you refer to this do you mean a cut, etc. that is fresh enough to still be bleeding and broken skin that is "weeping" from an active dermatitis or something? If a cut or wound is not still bleeding would you consider it unable to transmit the virus to your bloodstream? Thus, would it not necessairly be considered a significant exposure if infected blood or body fluids came in contact with one of these non bleeding type, several hour old wounds? Thank you for your help

Response from Ms. Breuer

Every not-quite-fresh, weeping, not-yet-healed cut or abrasion is different, so the general principle is to keep anything covered that allows access to your bloodstream. One case that applies to your question is that of a caregiver who had extensive, weeping excema on her hands. Over the months of her caregiving, she came into contact with most of the patient's body fluids, and she did not wear gloves. She did acquire HIV infection.

The literature is not full of such cases; they're very rare. But they do happen sometimes. So the standard you need to apply, considering that it is possible, is what gives you confidence? What standard do you know you can keep up? What will keep your mind from playing scary scenarios? That's your standard.

As to your last question, the medical experts I have questioned agree that a cut that is several hours old is unlikely to allow the virus to reach the bloodstream--unless the cut is immersed in blood. The reason the cut isn't bleeding anymore is that a thin healing layer has already begun. Is it thick enough? Every case is different. Isn't this frustrating?

Concerned about cut on hand!!
Co-worker with AIDS who is sick.

  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary



This forum is designed for educational purposes only, and experts are not rendering medical, mental health, legal or other professional advice or services. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, mental health, legal or other problem that requires advice, consult your own caregiver, attorney or other qualified professional.

Experts appearing on this page are independent and are solely responsible for editing and fact-checking their material. Neither nor any advertiser is the publisher or speaker of posted visitors' questions or the experts' material.

Review our complete terms of use and copyright notice.

Powered by ExpertViewpoint