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Avatar universal

HIV transmission

Dear Doctors,
I am working with an HIV positive colleague for a few years already. He s a great and happy person and I do my best to make him feel at ease with all of us in the office and in our other social gatherings.
Am I correct in assuming that there is absolutely no chance of getting HIV from touching the same objects and staying and having regular social contacts with an HIV positive person? Here in Holland we are told that there is no way of getting the disease from touching the same objects unless we share needles (we are told that the risc is unprotected sex, breastfeeding and medical mistakes/accidents with needles). I am sorry if my question sounds stupid, but various people have been saying various things (on forums as well) and I got really worried about all this lately.

On a related topic, I read about the hunter theory in relation to HIV acquisition. I understand that HIV can not be transmitted through food. If the hunters from the hunter theory got infected from eating contaminated monkey meat would it mean that we could get contaminated from eating as well? Or is the zoonosis process a totally different ball game and no paralels can be drawn here?

Thank you in advance for your responses,


3 Responses
239123 tn?1267647614
Welcome to the forum.

The advice you had "Here in Holland" is exactly right.  There is absolutely no risk of catching HIV from an infected colleague in the workplace.  Here's a bit of data you may not know, but you may find helpful:  In households with HIV infected persons, only sex partners catch HIV.  Household members who are not sex partners of the infected persons never are infected, even after several years of sharing bathrooms, kitchens, meals, eating utensils, drinking glasses, and the like.  It simply doesn't happn.

The exact mechanism by which the viruses that evolved into HIV were first transmitted to human is not entirely clear.  Eating infected animals (certain kinds of primates) is a good possibility, but probably only if uncooked or very rare.  A more likely possibility is exposure to blood when slaughtering infected animals, perhaps via wounds on the hands or on sharp parts like broken bones.  As you will see, neither of these situations is similar to imply sharing food with an infected friend or colleague.

Avoiding HIV is pretty simple.  Don't share needles or other injection equipment with anybody; know your sex partners; and except for a mutually monogamous relationship, don't have vaginal or anal sex without condoms.  That's all.  There is nothing else you need to know or worry about.  Do these things and you will never catch HIV.

Finally, you are correct about the problems that can arise from indiscriminate online searching.  Anybody can say anything on the internet, and there are many individuals or entire websites that misunderstand HIV transmission.  Mostly they are just naive, but others are making a political point or even intentionally giving false information.  If you feel the need for online research about HIV, I encourage you to limit yourself to professional sites like CDC, NIH, various state and local health departments, or their equivalents in NL or Europe.  Amsterdam's health department (GGD) is internationally respected, and I would trust whatever information they can offer.  Also the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).  There are others that are excellent, but I suggest you stay away from websites run by and for HIV infected persons, and be very careful about those operated by churches, political groups, etc.

I hope this helps.  Best wishes--  HHH, MD
Avatar universal
Dear Doctor thank you for your email.
Its quite reassuring.

Just to better understand your response, what you mention in relation to the hunter theory and food consumption is limited to how the virus may have evolved in the humans and is related to primates (row ones) consumption?
This does not in any way relate to the everyday food we consume regardless of who prepares it?

Thank you once more for your response,

239123 tn?1267647614
I don't understand the question, but it seems you are way over-thinking the situation.  The likely modes of introduction of HIV into humans do not imply transmission by contaminated food. The amounts of virus exposure are millions of times lower, and it is implausible that food could ever be contaminated with sufficient blood or other secretions to result in transmission.  And no such HIV cases have ever been documented or even suspected.  In case you wonder whether I really believe it, my wife and I have both personal friends and personal colleagues with HIV, and we often eat meals in their homes.  It would never enter our minds that we are at risk of HIV on account of it.

Please re-read paragraph 3 of my reply above, believe it, and take it to heart.  There is no scenario you can think of that would change that advice.
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