Can I Get AIDS From? -- Questions & Answers

Can I get HIV from blood transfusions or organ transplants?
Yes, if the blood or organ is infected with HIV there is a great chance you will become infected as well. Virtually every person who has had a blood transfusion or organ transplant that was contaminated with HIV has become HIV positive. Fortunately all blood is routinely screened and the chances of getting HIV from a transfusion or transplant are near zero. Remember they are near zero in the United States and other "Western" countries. If you travel to places like China, India, Africa, or the Middle East not all blood is screened.

When did they start testing blood for HIV?
In 1983 blood began to be screened on the basis of "case history." In other words men who have had sex with men or IV drug users were asked and if they said they were IV drug users or had had sex with a man they were excluded. Actual screening of the blood for HIV antibodies was begun in 1985. Thus the greatest risk for contracting HIV thru blood transfusions was in the late 70s or early 80s.

Can you get HIV from giving blood?
No you cannot, at least not in the United States or other Western countries. Disposable needles are used just once and that is all. The needle is sealed sterile; your blood is collected than the needle discarded. Again, it is important to remember not all developing countries have access to sterile needles.

Is this the reason so many hemophiliacs got AIDS?
Yes, hemophilia is an inherited disease that causes uncontrolled bleeding. The disease is treated by transfusing missing clotting elements with the proper clotting elements from donors. In the early 1980s 65% of all hemophiliacs contracted HIV this way. Since 1985 the rate is almost zero.

What do you mean almost zero?
Nothing in the world is 100% sure, if you are concerned and you are planning to have surgery you can arange to donate your own blood a week or so in advance so there will be no chance of contamination from HIV or anything else.

What happens if I donate blood and test positive for HIV antibodies?
If you are positive the organization that took your blood is required to notify you of the positive status.

Can you get AIDS from Kidney dialysis?
Yes any situation where you expose a person's bloodstream to HIV can cause HIV infection. However this almost never occurs in the United States or other western nations. In developing countries HIV infection through dialysis while not common isn't unheard of and all people are asked to use extreme caution if you need dialysis outside of American or other "western" nations.

Can doctors require you be tested for HIV before treating you
No, they can't ethically or legally deny you treatment but realistically they can simply choose not to see you for no reason at all.

Does an HIV infected doctor or dentist have to tell you if infected?
No, doctors or dentists do not have to disclose their status of HIV or any other health issues. The American Medical Association and the American Dental Association have strongly urged their members NOT to engage in any activity that carries risk of HIV transmission. This is suggested but not required.

Can you get HIV from co-workers?
Not unless you are shooting IV drugs with them or having sex with them you cannot. HIV does not exist on surface objects; it's impossible to get HIV from sharing phones, headphones, typewriters or office space.

Can you get HIV from your barber?
Theoretically yes, he would have to cut or nick your neck or head and draw blood and then expose that cut to his blood. As you can see it's possible but probably is near zero for a risk.

Can you get HIV from cleaning up bloodstains of floors or clothes?
Cleaning blood fresh or dried should ALWAYS be done with latex gloves. The HIV virus does not remain viable outside the body for very long. Detergent and bleach will easily destroy HIV.

If an HIV positive person bites me can I get HIV?
Yes it's possible but not likely. HIV doesn't exist in saliva in transmissible amounts. The University of Maryland followed 13 people bitten by HIV positive people where blood was drawn. None became infected. They also followed 30 emergency room doctors and nurses who were bitten or scratched by HIV positive people. None were infected with HIV. However there have been at least five documented cases of transmission thru a bite.

Can I get HIV from wearing and HIV positive person's earrings?
No, detergents effectively destroy HIV, and anytime someone shares pierced earrings they should clean them before using them. This will eliminate not only HIV but other skin infections as well. As said before HIV is fragile and does not live long outside the body and assuming there was no blood on the earring you'd be at no risk.

Can you get HIV from sharing an HIV positive person's razor?
In theory yes, but again there would have to be blood on the razor and the HIV positive person would have had to just used it. It is improbable even then because the blood would not be on the razor in large enough amounts to infect someone.

What if an HIV positive person bleeds on my skin?
Assuming there are no cuts on your skin, there is no risk. Intact skin is an effective barrier against HIV infection. However the skin must have no cuts or nicks where your blood and the HIV infected person's blood could mix.

Do sports; especially contact sports pose any risk?
Boxing is currently the only sport which HIV positive people are discouraged from engaging in, due to the large amounts of cuts, nicks and blood. Otherwise as long as the sport will not allow for blood to blood contact then there is no risk. HIV isn't transmissible through sweat.

Can you get HIV infection from a toilet?
No, there is no risk. Although it technically would be possible if someone with HIV positive bled on the toilet seat and then you came in directly behind him and sat on the bloody seat and had a cut on you.

Can you get HIV from a hot tub, or swimming pool?
No, chlorine kills HIV, and Hot tubs destroy the virus as well.

Can you get HIV from sharing clothes?
No, HIV would be killed by laundry detergent, and cannot remain in the washing machine or dryer without being killed.

Can you get HIV from sharing a toothbrush?
No, HIV doesn't exist in saliva in large enough amounts to transmit and the cleaning detergent in toothpaste would kill HIV. However other diseases such as the common cold can be transmitted so it's a good idea to have your own toothbrush.

Can you get HIV from sharing makeup?
No you can't HIV cannot be transmitted this way. However sharing of make up especially eye make up is a good way to contract conjunctivitis (also called pinkeye) so you should not do this.

Is HIV transmitted through Tears?
HIV is found in very minute quantities in tears but not enough to be transmissible. In addition the eye has proteins, which kill the virus.

Can you get HIV from a sore, lesion or skin infection?
Yes, direct contact with a sore, lesion or skin rash should always be avoided even if the person is HIV negative. Too many other diseases can be transmitted that way. Always use latex gloves and other barrier nursing when touching any sore or skin infection, regardless of the person's HIV status.

Can I get HIV if my partner ejaculates on my skin?
The skin is an effective barrier to HIV as long as the skin is intact and has no scars, rashes or scraps it is OK. HIV cannot penetrate the skin.

Can I get HIV if an erotic dancer rubs up on me?
No

Can you get HIV from hugging someone?
No, hugging and touching are completely safe. HIV simply cannot penetrate intact and uncut skin.

Can I get HIV from sharing glasses, dishes or food with an HIV positive person.
No, this can pass other diseases along such as the common cold, but HIV cannot. This is because HIV doesn't exist in a significant enough amount to gain access to the body. HIV cannot survive dishwashing liquids or the heat of a dishwasher.

Can HIV be passed on if my food preparer is HIV positive?
No, heat of cooking would destroy the HIV and ruling that out for uncooked food, the preparer would have to cut himself and bleed quite a lot on your food to pass on HIV. However many other diseases such can be spread by food prepares.

Can I get HIV from sharing a cigarette?
No there is not enough virus in the saliva to spread HIV that way.


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