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Let's say that someone uses a needle which has some old blood infected with HIV. In this case, is it possible for them to get infected with HIV?

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  • $\begingroup$ Doesn't the oxygen of air eliminate the virus? $\endgroup$
    – Alex
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ It's important to define how old is "old", here, I think. I rephrased the question a bit so that it focuses more on the science than an individual diagnosis. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Let's not define old in order to have a complete answer. I suppose the answer is based on that. $\endgroup$
    – Alex
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 19:17

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Yes, you can transmit HIV with infected needles/syringes. This is a quite common mechanism of transmission when drug addicts share and re-use needles and syringes and also in third world hospitals with poor hygiene standards.

A drop of blood is considered infectious at least until it has completely dried up (some research showed that it might be contagious for up to 5 days longer when the conditions are right, see reference 1 below). Mostly HIV is senstive against high temperatures (over 60°C), while it is stable at low temperatures. It is very sensitive against shifts in pH (below 7 or above 8) and also against desinfectants like bleach. Have a look at the references below, a lot of research has been done by Abdala et al. in this field. You can find his whole reference list here (it contains more articles in this field).


References:

  1. Survival of HIV-1 activity after disinfection, temperature and pH changes, or drying.
  2. Survival of HIV-1 in syringes.
  3. Survival of HIV-1 in syringes: effects of temperature during storage.
  4. Viability of HIV-1 in syringes: implications for interventions among injection drug users.
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