Does boiling destroy HIV virus?
Q: I am living with a friend who is HIV positive. I have no problems with it, but I am concerned about one thing. As we are living together, we share a few things like knives. If I find some blood on any thing like a knife what should I do? I cannot buy a new thing every time. Does putting an item such as a knife in boiling water for 2-3 minutes destroy the virus? If not what should I do to destroy it immediately? However, I feel that putting the object in boiling water for 2-3 minutes should destroy the virus but I want to be sure.
A:You say that you have no problem living with a friend who is HIV positive! However, your query seems to be rooted with the usual misconceptions about HIV. HIV positive people are infected with the HIV virus but do not have AIDS, which is the diseased state. An HIV positive person can transmit the infection either sexually (risk of infection per heterosexual sexual intercourse: 0.5-1%, i.e. if an HIV positive person has sexual intercourse 200 times, he or she may transmit the infection to the partner once or twice only). The risk for homosexual sexual intercourse is slightly higher. Regarding blood on a knife, the chances that such patients will bleed on to a knife or spoon or other utensils is as low as the general population. Also, the HIV virus dies off within 30 minutes outside the human body if the secretions or blood dries off. Utensils have not been shown to transmit infection. However, blood transfusion from such patients is very likely to transmit the infection, but all blood is screened for HIV before transfusion. You can continue to stay with your friend and share such items. However, personal items such as razors or toothbrushes should not be shared. Here are some guidelines for HIV infected individuals, and you could pass them on to your friend:
- Avoid sexual and other high-risk activities, such as sharing needles. This is the best way to prevent spread of the virus. People with HIV can give the virus to others before they know they are infected. Safe sex should always be practiced to help prevent the spread of infection. If you are sexually active, you should engage only in safe sex. Avoid exposure to blood and sexual secretions during sex. This involves (a) avoiding vaginal and anal intercourse, unless condoms are used; (b) avoiding oral-genital sex without condoms; (c) avoiding oral-anal sex; and (d) avoiding getting semen or blood in cuts or in the eyes.
- Do not donate blood, plasma, semen, or organs (such as eyes - cornea).
- Do not share or reuse IV needles and syringes. Do not share needles for tattooing or body piercing. Do not share razors, toothbrushes, or anything that could be contaminated with body fluids or blood.
- Tell your doctor that you are HIV positive.