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Undectable transmission to healthcare

Feb 11, 2019

I work in a lab and was unaware a specimen I was processing was from a patient with HIV. I was processing a frozen tissue sample. I use universal protection, but that day I was sneezing a lot and at one point in a rush grabbed a piece of gauze with my gloves on and sneezed. I have read undectable means untransmittible for sex partners. Does it reduce the risk to healthcare workers. No visible blood on hand, but I know that does not necessarily mean none was there. Im at day 7 and will occasionally run a low grade fever, but it usually happens when Im thinking about it.

Symptoms hopefully from anxiety

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Hello and thanks for writing. You are correct that blood with an undetectable HIV viral load cannot pass on the virus. Do you know the status of the blood sample in question? That would be my only concern in the scenario you mentioned.

It is very common to experience symptoms (such as anxiety and other physical effects such as fever) as a result of worry about something as impactful as an HIV diagnosis.

You lab should have protocols for you to follow in this situation, including lab tests that can detect viral activity. Hopefully by this point you have consulted with them and taken any appropriate steps.

All the best,

David



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