Email 395: Sharing Toothbrush

Posted by Pozziepinoy on 9:42 PM

Dear Pozzie,

You've guided me well in my journey as an HIV positive individual. Thank you very much for your very enlightening blog and all your efforts to help people like us.

After I started taking my ARVs and significantly hurdled the complexities that go with it, I am confronted with another perplexing situation, this time involving my sister.

 She's been taking care of me since the start of this month. I asked her to move to my place even if her school's quite far from here. Accidentally, she used my toothbrush a couple of weeks ago, about the time when I started having mouth sores. Our toothbrushes look quite similar. Just now, she said she's got mouth sores at the side of her lips, causing her tearing pain whenever she opens her mouth. We're worried that the virus was transmitted to her by using my toothbrush. I am very worried because I know I also had cuts inside my mouth about the time when she used my toothbrush and there's a possibility that I left blood in the bristles. I only wash my toothbrush with water after doing my oral hygiene. 

Most literature over the internet say that it's virtually impossible to transmit the disease by sharing a toothbrush, but other sources say that there is a very slim possibility to transmit it that way, especially when there are open wounds in the mouth. I secretly looked this thing up in the internet but I never told my sister. I just assured her it's not possible because the virus dies right away as soon as it leaves the human body. But then, if there's blood in my toothbrush, I'm afraid it can still be possible.

Hope you could help me clarify the matter. As you know, I don't have much people to ask this about since until now I am keeping this just between me, my mother, brother and sister. No one else knows, apart from them and my doctors.

Again, thank you very much and more power.



Hi G.R.

Thank you for your email. Thank you for the kind words about the blog and for sharing your concern with us. 

Let's get straight to the point here. Sharing of toothbrush can't transmit the virus. However, there will be a very very minimal risk in case:

1. There is direct contact of your fresh blood to another person's open wound or open mouth sore. This happens if while your mouth sores are bleeding while you're brushing, your sister immediately borrowed your toothbrush and used it without rinsing (which is of course outrageous, but maybe possible if there is no available water at that time to rinse it off before sharing), while she has mouth sores . In your case, you mentioned that you always wash your toothbrush after using (which is always the case for everybody, with or with HIV), thus makes it more clearer to me that there won't be any residues of blood in the bristles.

2. The toothpaste itself is a cleaning agent and once you wash the bristles with water, the toothpaste can wash away the residues (and somehow kill the bacteria, acting as disinfectant).

Because of these reasons, it is almost close to impossible for one to transmit the virus through sharing of toothbrush. However, for you guys to calm down your nerves, tell your sister to take the test too. There is nothing to worry about it, I tell you but by doing it, by not fearing to take the test, you are starting to take the first step in educating people to get relaxed and not fear it.

I hope I was able to answer your concerns. Feel free to email me again if you have other concerns.

Stay healthy,

NO PLHIV is alone with his or her struggle with HIV!"


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