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STDWatch
Hannah Kingston

Mar 25, 20227 min read

Can you get HIV from a toilet seat?

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HIV, which is short for human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that causes a sexually transmitted disease (STD) called acquired immunodeficiency disease (AIDS). This infection is chronic, and although it can be managed through treatment, there’s no cure for it yet. It’s very important to prevent HIV transmission in order to avoid this lifelong infection.

Have you ever wondered whether you can get HIV from a toilet seat? Keep reading to find out.

Can you get HIV from a toilet seat?

As confirmed by the organization Avert, the HIV virus can’t survive for long on surfaces or the air, which means that you can’t get infected from sitting on a toilet seat that has been used by someone with HIV.

According to the CDC, the virus becomes inactivated very quickly once the contaminated fluid dries out. Additionally, commonly used germicidal substances can also inactivate the virus very quickly and effectively. 

In order to get HIV from sitting on a toilet seat, several things would have to happen at the same time: contaminated fluids would have to be present on the toilet seat, you’d need to have an open wound or exposed mucous membrane that comes into contact with those fluids, and the fluids would have to be very recent for the virus to be alive. The likelihood of these things happening at the same time is practically nonexistent, and cases of HIV transmission after sitting on a toilet seat haven’t been recorded.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is primarily transmitted through contact with infected bodily fluids. For infection to occur, the virus must come into direct contact with your bloodstream. This can happen if you have a small injury that allows the virus to enter your circulatory system, such as needle punctures or small tears in your tissues.

According to a study published in the journal Current HIV Research, HIV can also enter your system by crossing the cellular barriers in your mucous membranes, such as your mouth, genitals, and anus or rectum. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, you can get HIV in several ways, including:

  • Unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex
  • Sharing needles or other drug paraphernalia
  • Contaminated blood transfusions — however, this has become a very rare occurrence thanks to routine testing
  • From mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding

Can you get other STDs from a toilet seat?

Many people believe that you can get STDs from sitting on a contaminated toilet seat, but this is just a myth. The pathogens that cause STDs can’t typically survive on surfaces for very long, and they probably won’t come into direct contact with your genitals when you sit on a toilet seat. 

However, there are some objects that can transmit STDs if they’re contaminated and you don’t use proper safe sex strategies. Sex toys can transmit STDs, sharing sex toys can pass on STDs such as:

It’s very important to clean your sex toys if you’re going to share them with a partner; you can also cover them with a condom and change it between partners. Cleaning your sex toys properly will also help keep them in good shape and prolong their life.

HIV diagnosis 

If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, you should seek medical guidance and get tested. If the exposure is very recent, you can also talk to your doctor about taking PEP or post-exposure prophylaxis. This is a short course of anti-HIV medications which should be given within 72 hours of HIV exposure in order to prevent infection.

Keep in mind that the best way to manage HIV, in addition to practicing safe sex, is to diagnose the condition as early as possible. This allows patients to access treatment to reduce their viral load until it’s undetectable, which prevents health complications and allows HIV patients to lead normal, long, and healthy lives. However, undiagnosed HIV can lead to numerous health problems, and over time, death. 

Getting tested for HIV regularly is the best way to ensure an early diagnosis, especially if you have any risk factors for HIV. Thanks to at-home STD testing kits, you won’t have to leave the privacy and comfort of your own home in order to receive an HIV test result. After ordering your kit online, you’ll simply have to follow the instructions to collect your samples and mail them back to the provider. You can learn more about HIV testing at STDWatch.com.

Sources:

YOU CAN'T GET HIV FROM TOILET SEATS - avert.org

Recommendations for Prevention of HIV Transmission in Health-Care Settings - cdc.gov

HIV/AIDS - mayoclinic.org

Mucosal Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Are sex toys safe? - nhs.uk


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