General Question

pixiequeen12's avatar

Why can't mosquitoes transmit AIDS?

Asked by pixiequeen12 (137 points ) June 26th, 2008

if mosquitoes transmit diseases such as malaria by ingesting blood and then mixing some of that old blood with the blood of the next victim they are biting, why can’t they do so with HIV? Furthermore, if there is something in a mosquitoe’s stomach/system that kills the virus, or that prevents it from being transmittable, why don’t we use this to create a vaccine?

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8 Answers

eambos's avatar

The HIV/AIDS virus dies when in contact with the air.

soundedfury's avatar

No, HIV does not die when it comes into contact with air. That is a misconception. The CDC commissioned a study several years ago that showed that HIV can survive in the air if the temperature is normal and there is enough air moisture.

It’s one of the reasons that labs are cautious and lab workers where special respiratory devices to avoid any exposure. HIV is not an airborne-disease because it didn’t evolve to spread outside of the body, but in some conditions it can survive (but not replicate) in the air.

The reason that mosquitoes can’t spread the virus is that it is destroyed very quickly inside of a mosquito, owing partly to the temperature of the insect and partly to the inability to replicate in a mosquito’s system.

A mosquito doesn’t inject another person’s blood when they bite you. They inject saliva. The HIV cannot live in a mosquito’s saliva the same way that other diseases can. So, while malaria is transmitted by the saliva of the mosquito (because, unlike HIV it can replicate in the mosquito’s system), HIV never enters into the saliva and therefore cannot be transmitted.

vectorul's avatar

Awesome answer!!!!!

pixiequeen12's avatar

soundedfury, are you saying that HIV never enters the saliva, or that it is destroyed by the saliva?

soundedfury's avatar

I’m saying that the studies show that it never gets into the saliva. Where a mosquito creates saliva and where it stores blood are different areas. The studies also show that a mosquito doesn’t inject even a drop of blood when they bite you.

Also, my previous post should have said “lab workers wear” and not “where.” I’ve been having a bad grammar day.

AlexChoi's avatar

@soundedfury can you site your source?

soundedfury's avatar

I can’t site the exact sources – it was referenced in a human sexuality textbook that’s at home – but I can point you towards CDC resources that summarize the same sources:

On HIV living outside the body: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/qa/qa35.htm
On HIV transmission through mosquitos: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/qa/qa32.htm

eambos's avatar

My mistake, I believed in that misconception. . Great explanation, sounded.

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