HIV - Prevention Expert Forum
Eye exposure
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This forum is limited to prevention of HIV and to safe sex in general. All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Eye exposure

Dr, sorry to write another Q so soon, I know this is my last because of the 6 month rule, I have just been having a nervous few days. Today I was using a toilet at work, and when I finished I used some toilet paper to wipe the seat, as there was a drop of liquid. I thought I used sufficient so that it wouldn't contact my hand (in case it wasn't mine!) but I'm worried it could have contacted my hand now. I then remember rubbing my eye, I probably used my arm or the back of my hand, but now I'm worried I could have contacted my fingers or the part of my hand used for wiping up the liquid, but have become worried I did use my fingers which may have been contaminated with the liquid. My worries fuelled when I thought about another worker who shares this toilet and I've heard that she once had a boyfriend who may be gay. Of course I worry what if the liquid was blood and I stuck my finger in my eye. Hypothetically even if this is the case, am I right not to worry? It seems from the threads I shouldn't. Even if the blood had HIV and hadn't died yet, would the blink response etc of the eye protect me? I gather that you should only worry about such exposures if u get a lot of stuff in your eye (though I read a thread by Dr Hook that said someone getting sperm in the eye from a HIV infected person could be 1 in 100 chance of infection which frightens me!!!)
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Welcome to our Forum.  I'll be pleased to comment and am glad I happened to pick up your question since I do not remember suggesting that direct introduction of ejaculate from an HIV infected partner into the eye would lead to a 1% (1 in 100) chance of infection.  I suspect what you read was either taken out of context or a typographical error on my part. There are no cases that I have ever seen or heard of in careful reading of the scientific literature which suggest that HIV (or other STDs for that matter) are effectively transmitted to cause infection from an infected person's genitals, urine, or genital secretions on a person's hands or fingers.  The virus is highly unstable and is damaged as soon as it leaves the body, whether in urine or secretions and damaged virus is not infectious.  The sort of possible (and I emphasize the word possible) exposure that you mention is not a risk for HIV.  I would not worry and certainly see no reason for testing related to the events you have described.  The risk is too low to be accurately measured or estimated.

I hope this comment is helpful. EWH
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Many thanks Dr for your answer.
At the risk of sounding silly I just wanted to check if 'genital secretions' covers period blood ? Or I'm guessing any kind of blood!
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Yes, my comments referred to menstrual blood, genital secretions, urine, and other bodily fluids.  EWH
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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