I was wondering if one could get HIV from basically touching a surface which has had viral DNA extract, serum, or blood on it; and then touching their (bleeding) pimple or acne, or any other open area of the skin.

From what I've seen, the answer is “no” due to the fact that the virus is not able to live (or “stay infective”) for that long outside the human body.
Popular science: How long do microbes like bacteria and viruses live on surfaces in the home at normal room temperatures? If I am not getting it wrong, the first paragraph states this fact clearly:

The answer is probably not what you want to hear: Microbes can live on household surfaces for hundreds of years. The good news, however, is that most don't. Some well-known viruses, like HIV, live only a few seconds.

If the information is right, what I still don't understand is: why is it not possible for it to be infective since there will still be RNA present on the surface (even after the virus is dead or no virus left), getting in contact with skin, and eventually with the blood through an open area on the skin? Because the whole strain would still be there and would have gotten into the body. (Maybe even along with the ingredients in the dried fluids?)

  • 1
    I'm not sure why this got downvoted. It's actually a good question with a clear answer.
    – Carey Gregory
    Sep 14, 2018 at 1:04
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    Welcome to Health.SE! Please take the tour and read the help center. What has your research shown you so far? Where have you already searched? Please help us to help you. You may improve your question to comply with site guidelines by documenting your findings so far with an edit and the help of How to Ask. This question contains background info of a kind that could be misread as a request for personal medical advice. To avoid that misunderstanding you might want to rephrase those parts. Thanks! Sep 14, 2018 at 13:58
  • @LanfLang - to me the OP shows a clear question and signs of reasonable research. Unless it's been edited to improve, I don't think your comment is very relevant, as the points in it are already pretty well addressed, and it's clearly asking for general understanding not medical advice for a specific situation.
    – Stilez
    Sep 15, 2018 at 23:07
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    @Penny Thx for your edit. Sep 16, 2018 at 14:02

1 Answer 1


There is a similar question from biology section(https://biology.stackexchange.com/questions/15712/how-do-viruses-or-bacteria-survive-outside-the-body-long-enough-to-spread) but your question focuses more on the pathophysiology.

There will be several factors affecting it's ability to 'infect'. One is the virus' ability to survive outside a host cell, viruses aren't technically alive hence they can't be killed, only inactivated. If your skin is exposed to a viral protein of an inactivated virus, it will no longer be capable of injecting the said proteins inside the cell. Inactivated virus is also a method of vaccination.

Another factor would be the amount of pathogen required to cause an active infection. Some viruses would need 1 and some hundreds to cause a disease.

Source: One Virus Particle Is Enough To Cause Infectious Disease


Viral inactivation


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