Transmission through intact skin

Question

If infected blood comes in contact with a person's skin, but not near a cut (like on the arm or leg) is it possible for HIV to be transmitted this way? Like through pores or right through the skin like some toxic chemicals can?

Answer

Hi. Thank you for your question.

The skin provides an excellent barrier against infection with HIV, and other bloodborne diseases like Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. The pores of the skin are not a direct access to the bloodstream. As long as the skin is intact, and there are no fresh cuts, open sores, abrasions, dermatitis, etc., HIV will not enter the bloodstream, and you will not get infected. However, remember that mucous membranes (linings of the eyes, nose, mouth, head of the penis, vagina, and rectum) are much thinner than regular skin, and are much more likely to have microscopic cuts and abrasions, that may allow HIV to enter the bloodstream.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).