anonymous on September 2, 2011

Can I infect someone with HIV if I have bleeding gums?

Sometimes my gums bleed a little. If I’m infected with HIV and my gums bleed a little, will my mom get infected?

answered by Daniel Perlman, MD, MBA on September 2, 2011

I understand your concern. Allow me to help…

First, have you been tested for HIV? From your question, it sounds like you’re not sure if you have HIV. If you haven’t been tested, I recommend getting tested for HIV and possibly other common STDs. Since HIV and other STDs often have no symptoms, the only way to know your STD status for sure is to get tested.

And the earlier you get tested, the better. Detecting any STD early will help your doctor treat it more effectively – and allow you to live a longer, healthier life.

That said, you cannot get HIV from everyday contact with an infected person. I’m assuming you live with your mother…rest assured that eating off the same plate, or sharing a phone or a toilet seat, for example, are safe. It is unlikely that your mother would get HIV just from living in the house with you, even if your gums bleed from time to time.

HIV is most commonly transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex when the blood, semen or vaginal secretions of an infected partner enter your body. In rare cases, you can also get HIV from blood transfusions, or by sharing contaminated needles or syringes.

However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a very small number of people have tested positive for HIV as a result of contact with bodily fluids in the home. Keep in mind that this is extremely rare and HIV cannot live for long outside the human body.

The best way to take care of your mother – and yourself – is to get tested and know your STD status across the board. If you are HIV-positive, there are treatments available to help minimize potential long-term complications from HIV. As well, if you do test positive for HIV or another STD, I suggest that your mother get tested, too…just to be on the safe side. The more information you have about your health status, the more proactive you can be about taking care of yourself and your mother.

I also encourage you see a doctor about your bleeding gums. Bleeding gums may be a symptom of gum disease, a bleeding disorder or something else. Please see your regular doctor to get to the root cause of your discomfort.

Finally, I commend you for your concern about your mother. I wish both of you good health. For more detailed information about HIV, please see our Expert Guide to HIV.

Daniel Perlman, MD, MBA

Dr. Perlman is a Colorado-based infectious disease specialist (including HIV and other STDs) in private practice at Greater Denver Infectious Diseases. Additionally, he is Assistant Clinical Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Perlman was educated at theUniversity of Maryland School of Medicine, and completed his residency in internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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