Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Chemical inactivation of HIV on surfaces.

British Medical Journal 1989; 298 doi: (Published 01 April 1989) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1989;298:862
  1. P. J. Hanson,
  2. D. Gor,
  3. D. J. Jeffries,
  4. J. V. Collins
  1. Brompton Hospital, London.


    To assess whether alcohol and glutaraldehyde are effective disinfectants against dried HIV the virucidal effects of 70% alcohol (ethanol and industrial methylated spirit) and 1% and 2% alkaline glutaraldehyde were tested against cell associated and cell free HIV dried on to a surface. Virus stock (100 microliters) or 10,000 cultured C8166 T lymphocytes infected with HIV were dried onto sterile coverslips and immersed in 2% and 1% alkaline glutaraldehyde and 70% ethanol for 30 seconds and one, two, four, and 10 minutes, there being an additional time point of 20 minutes for cell free virus disinfected with 70% industrial methylated spirit. In addition, virus stock in neat serum was tested with 1% and 2% alkaline glutaraldehyde to see whether the fixative properties of glutaraldehyde impair its virucidal properties. Virus activity after disinfection was tested by incubating the coverslips (cell associated virus) or the coverslips and sonicated cell free virus with C8166 T lymphocytes. The lymphocytes were examined for the formation of syncytia and HIV antigens were assayed in the culture fluid. Both 2% and 1% alkaline glutaraldehyde inactivated cell free HIV within one minute; 2% alkaline glutaraldehyde also inactivated cell free virus in serum within two minutes, but a 1% solution was ineffective after 15 minutes' immersion. Cell associated HIV was inactivated by 2% alkaline glutaraldehyde within two minutes. Seventy per cent industrial methylated spirit failed to inactivate cell free and cell associated HIV within 20 and 15 minutes, respectively, and 70% ethanol did not inactivate cell free virus within 10 minutes. Seventy per cent industrial methylated spirit and ethanol are not suitable for surface disinfection of HIV. Fresh 2% solutions of alkaline glutaraldehyde are effective, but care should be taken that they are not too dilute or have not become stale when used for disinfecting HIV associated with organic matter.