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You're the best Expert-Promise I won't bother you again-Please answer
Aug 7, 2002

Dear Dr. Bob:

About three years ago while working as a dental assistant I cut myself with a dental excavator that was bloody. I broke out with a small rash on the back of my upper thigh seven days later that looked like prickley heat. I am so scared. I didn't even think about seroconversion symptoms at that time.

My questions are: I have heard that blood in the open air that the white cells die within minutes thus so would any hiv virus---Is this true? It was at least two minutes from the time I took the tray with the bloody instrument from the exam room to the lab to begin scrubbing. (I was wearing latex gloves, also)

Also, when I got this rash, it came back seven months later, then I think almost a year later. It always appeared about 10 minutes after I would get out of the bathtub and slightly burn while breaking out. I could clear it up with Neosporin in a few days.

I have tried to get an hiv test, but I freeze. I am so scared and my husband is beginning to think I am crazy. The only mental "saving grace" for me is that my DDS knows this elderly gentleman well and says he is definitely not high risk (which we all know means nothing). I know I have to eventually be tested---but can you answer those two questions regarding the blood in the air and the rash?

Please? I am starting to become obsessed with all of this. Thank you and God Bless

Scared witless

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Scared Witless!

You are quite correct that HIV doesn't live very long outside of the body. Exactly how long depends on many factors, including amount of blood, amount of virus in the blood, ambient room temperature, etc. Your rash symptoms are not at all characteristic of HIV. From your history, I'd say your risk is extremely small. Don't obsess and don't freeze. Just get the test. The results will be negative and you will feel like jumping for joy - or as many previous worried wellers like to call it - WOO-HOOing! Don't wait, get the test, and prepare to WOO-HOO 'til the cows come home!

Good luck.

Dr. Bob


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