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Hepatitis and HIV CoinfectionHepatitis and HIV Coinfection
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Reassurance over low risk exposure
Sep 24, 2011

Dear Dr Mcgovern,

I recently visited my local travel clinic to get travel vaccinations before going oversees. The clinic is part of the infectious disease unit at my local hospital, with wards for individuals undergoing treatment for Hepatitis and HIV infection.

During my visit I noticed a small cut on my hand, which I had used to open the clinic door. Would there be any possibility of infection from any residue on the doorhandle that could have been transmitted via the small cut?

From having a look at your forum I realise the chance is remote, and dont in general go around avoiding door handles, however given the location I would appreciate some reassurance specifically around possible Hep B/C transmission as I understand it can hang around on surfaces a bit longer than HIV. I didnt see any visible blood on the doorhandle, and the cut was small and not bleeding.

Thanks for your help, and apologies if you think I am wasting your time.


Response from Dr. McGovern

All questions are important. Unfortunately, there are many I can't answer just because of volume.

You are correct when you say that viruses can live in the environment. However, there is no clear proof yet that this is a method of transmission. That is an important distinction. There are also other examples of this in infectious diseases as a field. One infection that clearly CAN be spread in the environment is Clostridium difficile, which can be spread in hospitals through the environment.

I would not recommend testing based on this event.

Hepatitis spread
Delayed seroconversion

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