HIV Infection via swallowing blood?


Dear Dr. Bob,

My husband and I are aid workers in Tanzania, where the prevalence of AIDS is greater than 10% in the city we work (Dar es Salaam). He was involved in a car accident on Friday and the taxi driver's blood went into his mouth. He has no open sores in or around his mouth, but he may have swallowed it.

What is the likelihood of him being infected?

Many many thanks for your time. This is clearly very stressful in an already stressful environment.




Hi Noel,

Your husband's HIV-acquisition risk remains extremely slight. There is no indication the cab driver was virally enhanced. You don't mention how much blood landed in your husband's mouth. Most likely it was only a small quantity. There are components in saliva that inhibit HIV. Also, stomach acid would kill the virus.

Because you are clearly worried, I'd suggest your husband get a single HIV-antibody test at the three-month mark. The results will most likely be negative, but this may be the best way to de-stress.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob