How Long Does HIV Live on Surfaces?

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HIV does not live for long enough on surfaces to infect anyone, according to AIDS Vancouver Island, a community-based AIDS service organization. HIV dies fairly quickly when outside of the body and in contact with oxygen, making the disease not transmittable via toilet seats and other public surface where the virus may have contacted.

HIV is transmitted through infected blood or sex fluids entering the bloodstream, according to AIDS Vancouver Island. While HIV can live inside the body in semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, blood, and brain and spinal cord fluid, it does not live in saliva, sweat, tears, urine, feces or vomit. Even if someone comes in contact with traces of infected blood or sex fluids in the environment, the risk for contraction of HIV is negligible, as the virus cannot survive outside of the body.

HIV is most commonly transmitted through unprotected sex, sharing needles and occupational exposure with an infected person, AIDS Vancouver Island states. Because HIV cannot be transmitted through surface contact, there is no risk in activities such as going to the gym, sharing food and drinks, using public toilets, sharing bedding or clothing, or kissing, hugging or touching a person infected with HIV. HIV can survive outside the body in a vacuum-sealed environment such as inside an injection needle.