Question: How long can HIV live outside of the body?
Answer: The general response to that question—the one that a person is most likely receive from helplines or brochures—is “not long.” The standard public health message today will tell us, quite fairly, that HIV is a weak virus and that once exposed to air, it can survive for maybe a few minutes at best.
To some, this may seem like a cursory, or even glib, response.
Surely if there are greater quantities of blood or body fluids, then it would stand to reason that HIV could possibly survive for longer than a few minutes, wouldn’t it?
The answer to that question, in all fairness, would be “yes.”
Under specific conditions, HIV can survive for far longer period of time, sometimes for hours or even days if the right temperatures, pH balance, light exposure and humidity are achieved.
It is a very difficult set of conditions but is nevertheless possible.
But does that necessarily mean that a person who comes into contact with spilled blood, semen or body fluids run an actual risk of infection?
The answer to this question is most always “no.”
The presence of HIV in spilled or discarded body fluids does not inherently mean that it has the potential to infect. While the conditions may be suitable for HIV to survive in microscopic quantities, transmission requires both significant quantities of HIV and the ability for the viruses to reach specific target cells within the body. Unless those conditions are satisfied, HIV infection simply cannot occur.
Determining the Potential for HIV Transmission
When discussing the potential for HIV transmission, it’s important to first establish the four criteria that must occur in order for an infection to take place:
- There must be body fluids in which HIV can thrive, such as semen, blood, vaginal fluids or breast milk. HIV cannot thrive in the open air or in parts of the body with high acid content (such as the stomach or bladder).
- There must be a route of transmission, such as through certain sexual activities, shared needles, occupational exposure or transmission from mother to child.
- There must be a means for the virus to reach vulnerable cells within your body, either through a rupture or penetration of the skin, absorption through vulnerable mucosal tissue, or both. Scrapes, abrasions or pricks on the skin do not generally provide an ample route of entry. HIV cannot penetrate intact skin.
- There must be sufficient levels of virus in the body fluids, which is why saliva, sweat and tears are unlikely sources since the level of virus in these fluids is considered insufficient for infection.
Because casual contact with discarded or spilled body fluids do not generally satisfy these conditions, the likelihood of infection is considered low to negligible.
Even in instances where an individual has come into contact with a discarded syringe—considered to be of potentially higher risk—most research has suggested that the risk of transmission was next to zero. An extensive review conducted in Australia in 2003 reported not one cases of HIV or hepatitis C as a result of contact with a discarded needle.
Conditions by Which HIV Can Survive Outside of the Body
If HIV were to survive outside of the body for more than a few minutes, it would need to do so within the following conditions:
- Colder temperatures below 39oF (4oC) are considered ideal for HIV to thrive in syringes, where it is better able to maintain levels of humidity. By contrast, HIV does not do well at room temperature (68oF/20oC), with viability decreasing significantly as it reaches body temperature (98.6oF/37oC) and beyond.
- The ideal pH level for HIV is between 7 and 8, with the optimal level of 7.1. Anything above or below these levels is considered unsuitable for survival. This is why HIV is less able to thrive in certain mucosal tissues such as nasal passages or the vaginal tissue of healthy women, as well as in feces, urine or vomit.
- HIV can, survive in dried blood at room temperature for up to six days, although most research shows that concentrations of the virus in dried blood are almost universally low.
- HIV survives longer when it is not exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light degrades the lipids that comprise HIV’s exterior shell, rendering it incapable to attach to other cells, while it also degrades the genetic material that HIV needs to replicate.
In 2014, 78% of the new HIV cases in Malaysia are transmitted via sex with a total new cases of 3,517. For 2014 – 9 new infection took place every day. Ratios : Injecting Drug Users – 19%, Man having Sex with Man - 30% and Heterosexuals – 50%.
An alarming increase in the number of HIV/AIDS cases among Malaysian youths, especially those aged between 20 and 30. 78.8 per cent of new cases involves youths who are between 20 and 30 years old.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV attacks the body’s immune system, making it weak and less able to fight off diseases. When a person is confirmed to have been infected by HIV, the person is said to be HIV positive (HIV+). This does not necessarily mean that the person has AIDS.
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the name given to a group of illnesses, which occur in HIV+ people as a result of a weakened immune system.
THE human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks other living cells and makes copies of itself. Although an infected individual feels well, the virus actively infects and destroys cells of the immune system, which are constantly being produced.
The number of cells of the immune system are slowly reduced, and after a number of years, the immune system is weakened and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) develops. A person infected by HIV can infect other people, irrespective of whether there are symptoms or not.
The methods of transmission of HIV infection are blood-to-blood-infection with contaminated syringes and needles; unsafe sexual practices, i.e. sex without condoms; a mother infecting her baby during pregnancy, labour or through breast milk after childbirth; and transfusions of contaminated blood. All donated blood in Malaysia is tested for HIV, so this route of infection is extremely unlikely.
Serious illnesses that may result from HIV infection include those that are normally prevented by the body’s immune system. They include tuberculosis (TB), pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, fungal infections, and cancers. These are called opportunistic infections because they take advantage of the weakened immune system.
Children living with HIV are known to develops infections, it vary by age and individual child, but following are some of the more common symptoms:
Failure to thrive, which is the failure to gain weight or grow according to standardized growth charts used by paediatrician.
Failure to reach developmental milestones during the expected time frame.
Brain or nervous system problems, characterized by seizures, difficulty with walking, or poor performance in school.
Frequent childhood illnesses such as ear infections, colds, upset stomach, and diarrhoea.
They have infections that rarely affect healthy baby but can be deadly for baby whose immune systems aren’t working properly.
We plead and need all your help to raise HIV awareness. The good news of HIV is, HIV IS PREVENTABLE. This is a message of HOPE that all needs to hear. May we together face His task and to take up His Cross. “Together we can make the difference”.
The day Wong left the hospital was the most grievous day for him. He had no home to return to, upon his diagnosis of latent tuberculosis and HIV. But this is the time when Wong needed his family the most in keeping his sickness under control. With his scrawny and feeble body, – This, is his story …
Abstinence: The ABC approach encourages young adults to delay “sexual debut” (age of first sexual intercourse), to use abstinence until marriage, the most effective way to avoid HIV infection.
Be Faithful: In addition to abstinence, to eliminate casual or other concurrent sex partners and to practice fidelity within marriages and other sexual relationships. This reduces exposure to HIV.
Use a Condom: The final component to the ABC approach is “correct and consistent condom use.”
Being tested regularly is NOT going to help. Knowing what to do to prevent HIV is what saves lives, including knowing how to have safe sex.
Growing instances of disease, unwanted pregnancies and repeated abortions are the consequences of young people who are paying less attention to safe sex. The younger they are, the less likely they are to take precautions.
It’s only natural that when the mood strikes, the last thing on your mind is the need for safer sex. The thought is that safer sex can’t be spontaneous, exciting, or feel good. Nothing could be further from the truth.
For many, the only concern before having sex is the risk of pregnancy. Others believe that only one time is no risk at all. Unfortunately, both premises are wrong. Unsafe sex carries a multitude of risks, HIV transmission, sexually transmitted diseases, …
The Impact of HIV/AIDS on Young People – most of infected youth are unaware of their status, and are unknowingly passing the virus on to others. Main mode of youth infections are through sexual contact.