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Can you help please?
Oct 25, 2001

Dear Nancy, I would like to ask you a question about HIV transmission that is worrying me slightly. There is this incident that worries me slightly - while I was using the toilet in my workplace and the inside of my underwear (i.e. the part that covers the peri-vaginal area) came in contact with the toilet seat). I had not paid much attention to the toilet seat before using it. When I finished using the toilet (i.e after my underwear had touched it) I could not notice any fluid or stains on the seat. I proceeded to put on my underwear. I would like to know if there is any risk for HIV transmission. I fear that there might have been some infectious fluid such as blood left on the seat just before I used it( I was waiting for the person before me in the stall to exit so I could use the toilet) but was wiped away so I couldn't see any visible fluid when I entered. Is there a cause for concern? If infected blood had been on the seat just moments earlier but wiped away, leaving traces of the hiv virus behind on the seat surface and it came into contact with my genitlas this way, wouldn't it amount to something like unsafe sex? Wouldn't HIV have access into my body via the mucus membranes then?

Please help. Would be very ograteful.

Response from Ms. Breuer

There is no risk of HIV transmission from the scenario you describe. Immediate contact with wet blood does pose a risk, but "residue" that might remain after wiping something off a surface would be exposed to oxygen, and HIV cannot sustain exposure to oxygen. If you saw no blood or fluids, and if your mucous membranes had no immediate contact with blood or vaginal fluids, you did not have an exposure. Not even close to one. Please let go of any concern about acquiring HIV from a toilet seat.

One further thought from years of questions similar to this, for anyone who may be reading this response: if anyone is having genital contact with any part of a toilet, it's time to think about improving one's aim, isn't it? Genital contact with any surface used by many people is not a great idea in general!



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