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Tuesday, May 3, 2016
HIV and AIDS
Transmission of HIV From Soiled Toilet Paper
Although everything I have read leads me to believe that this type of exposure is no risk, I cannot get it off of my mind and was hoping to get a professional opinion. I recently used a public restroom and discovered after using a roll of toilet paper, that it had been soiled with blood. I assume this was passed to the toilet paper on the hands of a person who was menstruating. While I have read that the virus does not live well outside of the body except in laboratory controlled conditions, I have found myself continuing to worry about the incident and the remote possibility that if the blood had been left by an HIV infected individual that it may have been passed through use of the soiled paper. I have no way of knowing how long it was there and whether or not it was completely dry, but I do know it was a relatively small amount that would have been on the paper I used. I am hoping you can tell me if there is any chance at all of the virus being contracted in this way. Thank you very much.
I don't think you have much to worry about. Transmission of HIV from blood soiled toilet paper has not been reported, to my knowledge. HIV does not live very long outside the human body. Studies from drug users suggests it might live as long as 24 hours inside a needle used to shoot drugs. When exposed to air, it is less capable of surviving. I think you can be reassured that you are safe. To be absolutely sure, you could always get an HIV test. If negative after 6 months then I think you can stop thinking about this episode.
Carl Fichtenbaum, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati