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Exposed at work now partner won't come near me
Mar 30, 2011

I'm a renal community nurse and have been looking after a HIV+ patient for about three months now. When my partner first found out I was looking after him she flipped out and said she didn't want me to do it as she was scared I would bring it home with me on my uniform.

I eventually managed to explain to her that HIV is not transmittable this way and we have many security measures in place to prevent me ever picking it up - this seemed to placate her. However the other day I was emptying my patients PD bags and managed to scratch my arm with the scissors I use to cut the bags open - the scratch did not bleed although the skin was red and raised. I didn't think it would be a problem as there was no blood but I couldn't get my girlfriend's reservations out of my mind and I thought I would never forgive myself if I ignored it and the worst happened, so I called my office who advised me to get a medical evaluation.

The doctors said the risk was so small that I did not need post exposure medication, but that just to be on the safe side we should use protection until the second blood test in 3 months. When I came home and told my girlfriend this last night she seemed to take it well.

I went to work today as normal. However when I came home tonight my girlfriend seemed cold and wouldn't look me in the eye. I went to give her a hug and a kiss and she pulled away. We then had a huge row where many hurtful things were said and she stormed out to a friend's. I know this is really difficult for her but I feel like I really need her support right now and not getting it is just making me feel abandoned and even more scared about my situation. Is this the end of our two year relationship?

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Your two year relationship deserves an effort by both of you to resolve this issue. Your girlfriend is understandably reacting with fear, but if this reaction is about the HIV scare, her feelings aren't based on fact. I understand your need for support, but her concerns need to be verbalized as well. I would suggest finding a couples counselor knowledgeable about HIV who could meet with you both for a few sessions, explain the risks and safeguards, and process any feelings that come up. The fact that her reaction was delayed may indicate that there are other concerns. Sometimes a stressful event such as this incident can become an outlet for feelings related to different relationship problems, in which case a couples counselor could also be of help.



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