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Lack of Transmission of HIV Through Human Bites and Scratches

Tsoukas Chris M.; Hadjis, Tom; Shuster, Joseph; Theberge, Lise; Feorino, Paul; O'Shaughnessy, Michael
Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: October 1988
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: PDF Only

To examine the relative risk of transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) through bites and scratches, we studied 198 health care workers, 30 of whom were traumatized in this fashion while caring for an aggressive AIDS patient. This violent patient frequently bit or scratched others, his mouth had blood and saliva, while his fingernails were at times soiled with semen, feces, and urine. He was HIV antibody and antigen positive. Although HIV was recovered from his peripheral blood lymphocytes, after 2.5 years of serial follow-up, all traumatized personnel were clinically normal, no HIV was cultured from their blood, and all were HIV antibody and P24 antigen negative. We conclude that this viremic AIDS patient, while producing copious amounts of body fluids, failed to infect those caring for him through bites and scratches. The risk of transmission of HIV through this route under similar conditions should be low.

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