HIV - Prevention Expert Forum
Please advise.
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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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Please advise.

Hi, I have checked the forum so believe this may not be a risk but can you
Tell me if things have changed since the previous posts. I accidentally used
A guests toothbrush and didnt check if there as blood or not as I was half asleep. I do have sensitive
Gums which sometimes bleed. Is this a risk for HIV? Please advise.
300980_tn?1194933000
Welcome to the Forum.  I'll be happy to comment.  This is one of those instances in which it is important to distinguish between theoretical and actual risk.  There are organizations which counsel against sharing toothbrushes because of HIV risk but these warnings are, quite frankly, out of date, unsubstantiated, and unwarranted.  There are no cases in which HIV has been documented to result from sharing toothbrushes.  Even if the person whose toothbrush you used had HIV (unlikely) and had just used it (since HIV dies quickly on exposure to the environment), this would still be a virtually no risk event.  

My advice is not to worry about this event.  No testing is needed. EWH
8 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
I meant to say that I didn't check the toothbrush for blood.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks very much. Am I correct in thinking that if I did have bleeding gums  then it wouldnt have been a risk?
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300980_tn?1194933000
Even with bleeding gums, either on your part or the other person- no change in my opinion or advice.  EWH
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Avatar_m_tn
Sorry to ask again, when you say virtually no risk    does that mean realistically No risk but theoretically low risk? Just want to get it clear if that's ok.
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300980_tn?1194933000
From a prior reply:

As a generalization for both you and other readers, you must realize that we VERY frequently get questions asking if different types of exposures are 100% safe or if prevention measures are 100% effective.  The answer to that is that this is scientifically impossible.  For a variety of mathematical reasons far too complex to go into here, all one can do with well conducted scientific studies is estimate probabilities.  By definition, any estimate, cannot ever be 100% certain because of the incredibly low possibility that someone will get HIV through a previously undescribed mechanism tomorrow.  On the other hand, when Dr. Handsfield or I say that something is virtually zero, very close to no risk, or of minimal risk, or use any other term to indicate a very small risk, that means "close to zero" in a world where zero cannot be attained.

Take a deep breath, relax and move  forward.  EWH
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi Doc, thanks for your advice. It has helped a lot and I feel I have moved on. But I think that you need to know that there is a website out there reporting a case where a toothbrush DID transmit HIV. A friend directed it to me when I told them about my experience. http://www.thewellproject.org/en_US/HIV_The_Basics/HIV_Transmission.jsp

It lists the risk at the bottom under "Rare types of transmission". I think it might be worth writing to them and clarifying this information. If it isn't documented then I can't understand why it is listed as so on this site.

I believe you 100% but just wanted to highllight this and to see if you were aware of this case.
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300980_tn?1194933000
With all due respect, this site provides NO references and makes a number of statements which are overly conservative.  Again, there are no SCIENTIFICLY PROVEN cases in  which HIV has been transmitted in this way. Perhaps some day it will happen. When it does it should be considered the exception that proves the rule- in much the same way that when I say there is no reason to worry aobut being struck by a falling meteorite although there is at lest one case of this happening.   EWH
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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Edward W Hook, MDBlank
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