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How Long Does HIV Live Outside the Human Body?

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Updated May 29, 2014

Question: How Long Does HIV Live Outside the Human Body?
One of the most common questions we get here at About.com's HIV site is regarding HIV and how long it lives outside the human body. People get concerned about touching someone or something and getting HIV-infected blood on their hands and becoming infected with HIV. Fortunately, HIV just doesn't infect the human body in that way.
Answer: Studies have proven time and time again that HIV does not survive well outside the human body. In artificially high concentrations produced in the lab, HIV drying that occurs outside of the body reduces the number of infectious viral particles by 99 percent in just a few hours. Since the concentration of HIV in blood or other bodily fluids is much lower, HIV drying outside the human body virtually eliminates all infectious HIV particles therefore making the risk of HIV infection from blood or bodily fluids outside the body essentially zero.

Keep in mind that while HIV infection from infectious bodily fluids outside the human body is essentially zero, other diseases like hepatitis B and C can and do occur. Therefore, any blood or bodily fluid outside the body should be considered a health risk and cleaned up using universal precautions and cleaning fluids that are known to kill viruses on contact.

What are Universal Precautions?

Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; "How Well Does HIV Live Outside of the Body"; October, 2006.

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