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HIV and AIDS

Life Span of HIV in The Air Following A Barber Shop Incident

03/03/2006

Question:

How long does HIV survive in the air? For example,from a person who is infected and was shaving with a blade and had droplets on a razor blade? I am worried about a situation I had recently at a barber shop where I was shaved with a razor blade. I never do that because I am a worrier, just as a precaution, but this time it was an on the spur of a moment thing.

Now I am worried if it's possible to tranfer it that way? As far as I remember, there was no blood on it and I was not cut at all to my knowledge. Also, I do remember him dipping the blade, for a half a second or so at most, in a clear jar that had some light green liquid in it. If there was anything on the blade, would that half a second dip have destroyed HIV 100% or the transmission of it?

Also, there was about a 5 to 10 minute time frame I believe, no longer I would say, before he shaved me since he gave me my haircut first. I am sure there is no risk, but once again I am not sure since I don't know the exact lifespan of HIV in the air, the time it takes for it to die, it does hit the air on a razor blade, and also the effectiveness of killing HIV transmission or the virus itself 100% by dipping it for a half a second in whatever he dipped it in. I am sure it was some type of disinfectant or bleach or alcohol most likely.

Anyway, please let me know if I should worry anymore or if there is any chance I could have it. On one more note, to end the story, I donate blood regularly and after the incidient, which occured around December 25th or so (no later than January 1, 2006) I donated blood on Feb 7th , 2006. So that would be about a month and a week or so at most after the incident occured. Would they have detected anything if I did contract something in that time frame? I do know there is advanced tests on donated blood that tests for the HIV Virus itself without waiting for the window period. Ayway, my blood was fine because I was not contacted. So, not taking the entire story into context and also the blood I recently donated after this on Feb 7th, what would you say? I am figuring I should wait until April, officially 3 months from the incident, and see if my blood is okay then again when I donate to fully clear my mind, but I would like to know sooner. Any information you have would be greatly appreciated, and if this is the wrong place to E-mail a question like this, please correspond me to the correct personal professional either directly or indirectly. Once again, sorry for the long story and thanks again. I will await your response.

Answer:

In the health care setting, workers have been infected with HIV after being stuck with needles containing HIV-infected blood or, less frequently, after infected blood gets into a worker's open cut or a mucous membrane (for example, the eyes or inside of the nose).

Some people fear that HIV might be transmitted in other ways; however, no scientific evidence to support any of these fears has been found. If HIV were being transmitted through other routes (such as through air, water, or insects), the pattern of reported AIDS cases would be much different from what has been observed.

To obtain data on the survival of HIV, laboratory studies have required the use of artificially high concentrations of laboratory-grown virus. Although these unnatural concentrations of HIV can be kept alive for days or even weeks under precisely controlled and limited laboratory conditions, CDC studies have shown that drying of even these high concentrations of HIV reduces the amount of infectious virus by 90 to 99 percent within several hours. Since the HIV concentrations used in laboratory studies are much higher than those actually found in blood or other specimens, drying of HIV-infected human blood or other body fluids reduces the theoretical risk of environmental transmission to that which has been observed--essentially zero.

As you are getting tested frequently with every blood donation, I would suggest adding an HIV viral load as well to the HIV antibody test.

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Response by:

Carl   Fichtenbaum, MD Carl Fichtenbaum, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati