HIV exposure risk in the community

Uncritical media reporting can fuel unnecessary fear in the community by exaggerating HIV transmission risk.

This can occur in reporting minor incidents where there is negligible risk of HIV transmission.

HIV transmission risk has been exaggerated in media reports involving casual contact with HIV-positive people where biting or spitting is involved, or other scenarios where broken skin or blood is present, such as sporting injuries, accidents or medical procedures. 

None of these scenarios involve any significant risk of HIV transmission.

In over 30 years of HIV in Australia there has not been one report of HIV transmission as a result of injury with discarded needles outside of a hospital setting, e.g., from stepping on a discarded syringe.

See also: 

HIV prevention: Health care settings

Background Briefing: Spitting and Mandatory Testing for HIV and other Blood Borne Viruses