|Hepatitis risk exposure
Dec 19, 2004
I work in a campus security position where I contact, and detain, IV drug users on a regular basis. Most of the time, I use latex gloves, but there have been incidences where I had to react quickly without gloves. What is the risk of contracting hepatitis and/or HIV by touching someone that has dried or fresh blood on their clothing or arms. I am concerned because I often have scratches or nicks on my hands.
Response from Dr. McGovern
The risk of acquiring hepatitis viruses or HIV through a route like this is very remote. You would have to imagine that the person's fresh blood mixed directly with your open wound. This open wound would have to be fresh also. Much more significant exposures are when health care workers have direct inoculation of blood into their bodies from a fresh needlestick filled with blood.
This is not to say though, that if you are ever concerned about a significant exposure, you should get medical attention ASAP to establish that you are negative and then get appropriate counseling and follow-up. This advice is for your own protection. I would keep a fresh cut covered with a bandaid when you go to work just for your peace of mind when you do have to work fast without the protection of gloves. Dr. McGovern
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