How Long Can HIV Live in Liquid?

Updated February 21, 2017

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), is a blood-borne pathogen requiring living cells to live itself. This being the case, it is virtually impossible for HIV to survive in a liquid absent of living cells. However, there are several substances that allow for it to live on for a short period of time.


If the liquid itself is blood that is spilled outside of the body, HIV could survive anywhere from one minute to several hours depending on the amount of virus, temperature of the blood and volume of the spill.

Sexual Fluids

Semen and vaginal fluid both have the capacity to contain varying degrees of HIV, assuming their host is infected. Saliva and tears do as well, though in much smaller concentrations. All infected fluids would have to come in contact with the bloodstream of another person in order to infect them.

Breast Milk

One of the primary means of HIV infection is through a mother's breast milk. If the mother is HIV positive, it is likely she will pass the virus onto her child when breast-feeding.

Liquid Nitrogen

If blood containing HIV is frozen in liquid nitrogen, it has the ability to last indefinitely, though it is not infectious in such a state. However, as soon as the blood is thawed, it is infectious for up to a handful of hours depending on the setting.

Immediate Destruction

A fragile virus once outside the body, HIV will destruct in the presence of soap or bleach. Alcohol and stomach bile destroy the virus upon contact, and any hot liquid will have the same results.


Absent of the body's protection, the human immunodeficiency virus immediately begins to die. It is unlikely that the viral load would be high enough to infect another person in the greater environment, no matter if in wet or dry conditions.

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