HIV is not transmitted by spitting and there has been no case of transmission of HIV from having been spat upon. ASHM does not endorse or support HIV testing of an individual because they have been spat upon by a person with HIV or a person of unknown HIV status. This includes forced testing under, such as under the application of a mandatory testing order.
HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is a retrovirus which is:
“transmitted following contact with infected bodily fluids. The typical routes of transmission are unprotected sex, blood-to-blood contact (including needle-stick injuries, sharing injecting equipment and contaminated blood products) and vertical transmission (from mother to child before, during and after birth). Less common routes include tattooing, organ and tissue transplantation, artificial insemination and semi-invasive medical procedures.”
However iatrogenic transmission (transmission via a medical procedure such as a blood transfusion) is not seen in Australia since the blood supply commenced screening all samples in 1984.
“While infectious HIV is detected in the saliva, it is present in substantially reduced quantities compared with blood or genital secretions. Furthermore, the saliva contains endogenous antiviral factors including HIV-specific antibodies and a number of soluble factors such as secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor [iii]. Saliva may alter gp120 structure and lyse HIV-infected cells secondary to the inherent hypotonicity of the saliva”. [iv]
March 2015; last reviewed April 2021
Levinia Crooks (a)
Mark Boyd (r)
[i] How is HIV Transmitted? https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/how-is-hiv-transmitted
[ii] Ways HIV is Not Transmitted: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/transmission.html; Body Fluids That Transmit HIV: https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/how-is-hiv-transmitted
[iii] Turville SG, Cameron PU, Handley A, Lin G, Pohlmann S, Doms RW, et al. Diversity of receptors binding HIV on dendritic cell subsets. Nat Immunol 2002; 3: 975-83.
[iv] ASHM (2009) HIV Management in Australasia: https://hivmanagement.ashm.org.au/natural-history-of-hiv-infection/hiv-transmission-by-other-bodily-fluids/