Halloween is upon us—and so is the next crop of vampire entertainment. A vampire detective series called Moonlight is on CBS’s fall schedule, while HBO is developing True Blood, a series based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries, by Charlaine Harris. The shows sell themselves as hip and modern. So could the thoroughly modern reality of blood-borne HIV factor into the lives of young urban Draculas? Or should we be less literal—and let sleeping bats lie? Timothy Mastro, deputy director for science at the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, says, “HIV could be transmitted via the ingestion of HIV-infected blood; mucosal surfaces, such as the lining of the mouth and esophagus, are possible locations for the entry of HIV.”

Vampire fiction has long played fast and loose with HIV-positive hematology. Anne Rice, who penned the Vampire Chronicles series, says,  “No human illness has any impact on vampires. The only tainted blood that could affect my vampire is poisoned or alcohol-filled blood—but the effects are only temporary.” Harris, whose series began in 2001, told POZ, “In my series’ first book, vampires can be infected with only one virus—[the fictional] Sino-AIDS, from China.” If only mere mortals were as fortunate.