Position Statement: HIV not transmitted via spitting

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.


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.”

ASHM (2009) HIV Man­age­ment in Aus­tralasia, p37

How­ever iatro­gen­ic trans­mis­sion is not seen in Aus­tralia since the blood sup­ply com­menced screen­ing all samples in 1984.

HIV is not spread by oth­er bod­ily flu­ids [i], “HIV can­not be spread through saliva, and there is no doc­u­mented case of trans­mis­sion from an HIV-infec­ted per­son spit­ting on anoth­er per­son” [ii].

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 [ii]. Saliva may alter gp120 struc­ture and lyse HIV-infec­ted cells sec­ond­ary to the inher­ent hypo­ton­icity of the saliva”. [iv]

ASHM (2009) HIV Man­age­ment in Aus­tralasia, p39

Date adop­ted:

March 2015

Author and review:

Levin­ia Crooks (a)

Mark Boyd ®