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18 Nov 2004

AIRBORNE TRANSMISSION OF DISEASE
Dear Doctor,

I,m a 16 year old and am curious to find out more about HIV. I've read many articles regarding the transmission of HIV, but am confused about one thing. On your website 'Health 24' and many others, I have read that HIV is not spread through airborne routes such as coughing, sneezing, talking or laughing. My question is what happens if you have a cut or abrasion on your face and if somebody had to cough, sneeze, etc and some of their body fluids (what if it also contained blood) got into their wound and also if it had to get into your eye? Does the virus die immediately when it comes into contact with the AIR?

Thank you very much.

CURIOUS AND CONFUSED
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Expert
CyberDoc
CyberDoc

01 Jan 0001

C&C, in theory if someone spits you with a mouth full of blood in the eye you might become HIV positive. You have to remember that there is a critical concentration of viruses per ml body fluid required before you will get infected (no, nobody knows what the exact concentration is). The body’s immune system will "zap" the HI virus as soon as it tries to enter the body and it is only when there are so many viruses that the immune system can’t kill them all before they can hide inside a CD4 cell that you’ve become infected. Let me know if you have more questions. Good luck.
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