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AMEN to that Dr. Bob, tell it like it is!
Jan 5, 2003

Way to go Dr. Bob on your eloquent response to the "GOP!"

I am a long time reader of your forum, not just because of the fatigue and anemia questions (I'm so sorry), but because of your witty and compassionate point of view to all those who come to you for help. I, as well as numerous others, are in sincere admiration of the work that you do and your ever vibrant zest for life! Your life partner, your parents, your patients, your friends, your fans, and lest we forget, Presto are all fortunate to be in your company.

Now, the GOP comments were what spurred me to try and write to you again (keeping my fingers crossed that you'll help straighten out my paranoid brain waves this time). You see, I also had a possible occupational exposure to HIV and God knows what other blood borne scourges. I work in a physician's office and in particular, blood specimens. Now, one time, I accidently touched the top of a rubber topped test tube without gloves on (you know how there's always a tiny drop of blood on the rubber top), and proceeded to scan over my finger very carefully (I couldn't see any cuts or scrapes in my skin or any blood so I became relieved). Not thinking much of the situation, I began picking my nose soon after that (I know this is similar to the Aussie fan of yours who went for a golden dig with possible vaginal secretions under his nails), but the possible mucous membrane exposure has left me quite scared and freaked out. Particularly when I started getting paranoid touching drops of water and not seeing anything visible on my finger.

Other incidents at the doctor's office that scare me are handling the basically "ziploc" bags where we place the blood test tubes to send to the lab and sometimes seeing some blood on the inside of the specimen bag. So, what I guess I mean to ask is can HIV be transmitted across a specimen bag to my finger?

Seeing how mentally disturbed I was, the doctor I work for also drew my blood for HIV-1/2 antibody screens at 12 weeks after the last possible exposure (without gloves) and it was negative. Now, none of the blood I touched was known HIV+, but do I need to test out to six months? Can I trust my 12 week results for these nonsexual exposures? Please write back to me. Please Dr. Bob (even if you don't want to post this in the forum, I really really appreciate any help you can give me).

I pray often for God to protect me as the fear and anxiety surrounding these possible contacts with blood have been incredibly detrimental to my psyche. I've probably visited every website on HIV particularly the Body (checking out Ryan Kull's and your postings maybe twice a day except on holidays) and have gotten wide ranging information on the window period. Follow this link to some info that I don't think is widely distributed on the window period (I can't really bring myself to peace with it and its 12 week recommendation though): http://www.tdh.state.tx.us/hivstd/educate/facts/window.pdf

Please assess my predicament Dr. Bob, I want to believe those results, but am scared because of the exposure not being sexual or related to sharps. Nobody on the planet seems to have placed themselves in the nerve racking position I have. I also wonder, are there other things I need to be screened for? I'm terrified of giving blood now b/c I don't want to give something bad to anyone.

A big fan of yours eagerly awaiting any reply you can give and wishing your family the best. God bless you Dr. Frascino.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Now you do realize these types of questions should be posted to our expert forum on HIV Prevention and Safer Sex, right? However, let me at least try to sooth and "straighten out your paranoid brain waves!" From reading so many HIV Web sites, I'm sure you realize HIV does not survive very long outside the body. My response to you is similar to that of the Aussie nose picker - "Cut that out!" After all, that's why God created Kleenex!

OK, so what's your risk? Essentially non-existent. This is more than confirmed by your negative HIV-1/2 antibody test at 12 weeks. Second, blood does not travel from inside Ziploc bags to the outside. If it did, why would we bother bagging them in plastic to begin with? Third, can you trust a 12-week result for this essentially non-existent, non-sexual exposure? Absolutely, positively, and completely!

Fourth, I agree you may well have a problem with anxiety and inappropriate, irrational fear, which can indeed be detrimental to your health. I strongly recommend you seek counseling to help you cope with these irrational fears. Visiting this Web site twice a day is quite compulsive, even for a "big fan!"

Considering your stress/fear/anxiety related to possible HIV infection, I'm wondering about your choice of careers. Is working in a physician's office handling blood specimens the best job for you? I don't know many folks with acrophobia (fear of heights) who take jobs as window washers on skyscrapers, or folks with arachnophobia (fear of spiders) who raise tarantulas for next sci-fi movies! It just might be time for you to consider doing something you might not be so fearful of - perhaps a job as a skydiving instructor?

Thanks for your very kind words. I do hope you now realize you have absolutely nothing to worry about except worry itself!

Stay well. Be happy.

Dr. Bob


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