Dried Body Fluids and Spread of STIs

Goals

To determine whether sexually transmitted diseases can be spread by contact with dried vaginal secretions or menstrual discharge. Here, contact entails either touch, mouth swallow, bloodstream contact, or other physical means.

Early Findings

HIV

  • HIV can be passed from one person to another if the infected person has a detectable viral load and their blood enters another person’s body or comes into contact with a mucous membrane. Mucous membranes are found in eyes , vagina , head of the penis , inside of the anus , and mouth.
  • HIV can also be passed from a person who has a detectable viral load when their blood comes into contact with a cut or broken skin of another person, giving HIV a way through the skin and into the bloodstream.
  • In women that have HIV, vaginal secretions and menstrual discharge can also pose a risk of transmission if they have a detectable viral load.
  • It is worth noting that once outside the body, the HIV virus usually does not survive for very long. Consequently, coming into contact with blood or semen that has been outside the body for extended periods of time does not generally pose a risk for HIV transmission.
  • From the above information, it was concluded that HIV cannot be spread by contact with dried vaginal secretions or menstrual discharge.

Hepatitis

  • On the other hand, hepatitis C can survive in dried blood at room temperature for several weeks while hepatitis B can survive in dried blood for around a week outside the body.
  • Consequently, it was concluded that contact with dried vaginal secretions or menstrual discharge in mucuos membranes or broken skin may result in the spread of hepatitis C and hepatitis B.

  • Generally, apart from hepatitis B and C, most other STIs cannot be spread through contact with dried vaginal secretions or menstrual discharge.

Proposed next steps:

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