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Can sucking blood transmit AIDS?

Q: I am involved in HIV/AIDS awareness programmes in this backward district of Kerala (Wayanad - 18% tribal population). Sometimes, their doubts are difficult to clear. Please help me. 1) It is usual here when a friend or colleague has a small injury on their fingers, his or her friend instinctively grabs the finger and starts sucking the blood. They want to know whether this practice may cause HIV infection. 2) This area is full of leeches as it is green with good amount of forest. A patient died here recently of AIDS and the people who are convinced about no spread through mosquitoes, are worried about leeches. Kindly help to remove their fears.

A:1. If the person sucking the blood from an injured finger etc. has cuts / scratches / ulcers in the oral cavity, this can surely cause transmission of HIV [of course, the injured person has to be HIV positive for this to happen]. Since minor scratches, cuts are quite common due to routine activities like brushing of teeth etc. it is advisable not to indulge in this practice. 2. Leeches, till date, have not been incriminated for transmitting HIV.

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