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Survival of HIV (conflicting info in articles)
May 21, 2012

Hi, I recenlty review two articles on this site about the survival of HIV outside of the body. They each site the CDC research on saying "HIV has been kept viable (able to infect) for up to 15 days, and even after the body fluid containing it had dried.", and the other saying "Although these unnatural concentrations of HIV can be kept alive for days or even weeks under precisely controlled and limited laboratory conditions, CDC studies have shown that drying of even these high concentrations of HIV reduces the amount of infectious virus by 90 to 99 percent within several hours.". I guess I just wanted to know which it is, that if even these high concentrations that were used for research were dried would it take 15 days or just a few hours for the virus to no longer be viable? I have not found this answered elsewhere so I thought I would ask for those of us who are wondering. Thank you so much.

Response from Dr. McGowan

Thanks for your question. I guess the answer is in the fine print. As stated "HIV can be kept alive for days or even weeks under precisely controlled and limited laboratory conditions". In the laboratory, the environment can be altered to provide conditions necessary to maintain virus from breaking down. Since it is highly unlikely that the normal, natural environment would have these conditions it is safe to assume that the virus would not survive more than a few hours. Also, even if one or a few particles of virus survived it may not be enough to cause an infection if a person had an exposure to their blood (this is called the inoculum effect).

Hope this helps, Joe

“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” John Burroughs


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