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Any risk from fresh-finger prick exposure to HIV Blood?
Aug 27, 2002

Hi Ryan, I need to ask you a very frank question and are hoping that you will give me your honest opinion. This is a Transmission(Non-sexual)category type of question.

I had my left thumb fingerpricked to draw blood for a Rapid HIV Antibody Test which i took on the 19th June 2002. This test was performed in an Anonymous HIV Testing Clinic located in an area where there are quite a few brothels nearby. The tester did not give me any band-aid for the finger-prick. He just told me to reuse the alcholic swab that was initially used to wipe clean the area of the thumb skin surface prior to the finger-prick. So i took the swab and pressed it in between my first finger and thumb as i notice my left thumb was still bleeding a bit from the finger-prick.

After my blood was drawn, i was told to wait outside the room for about 15mins or less and will be called to go back into the room to get my result when its ready. So, when i left the room to wait outside, it was common practise for the testers to continue to attend to other clients who have come for the same Rapid HIV Antibody Test.

After about 8 to 10 mins of waiting, i saw a guy coming out of that room and shortly after, my number was called out and i went back to the same room to collect my result. As it turn out, my result showed that i was HIV negative.

At this point, i was feeling over the moon. But, this feeling was short-lived. During the wait outside the room, i immediately threw away the swab and took out a fresh clean tissue to absorb whatever blood that is bleeding from my thumb still. And on recollection, i think my thumb must have stopped bleeding which accounted for me throwing away the tissue before going back to the room for the 2nd time.

So, with the negative result, i was happy to leave the clinic. But, when my left hand reached for the door handle of the room, i touched what seemed to be blood on the door handle. At this very moment, in retrospect, i should have made a scene and complain loudly to the tester to demand an explanation. But i didn't because i was the last client for that day and it was almost 8pm at night and the clinic was closing straight after me. So what i did instead was to leave the clinic and reached for a new fresh tissue to wipe my left hand thoroughly. But again, in retrospect, i should have gone straight to the toilet and wash my hands thoroughly clean with soap and water, which unfortunately, i did not do either.

Now i am so worried and convinced that i have been exposed to a possible HIV infection. I will definitely go for antibody testing at the 3 and 6 months mark. However, i would very much want to know exactly what is my risk of getting infected with the deadly virus from the facts above? I would really appreciate any insight and help you can offer me. Thank You Very Much!!!!

Response from Mr. Kull

It is extremely unlikely that you were infected with HIV in this circumstance. There is no evidence that HIV is transmitted through contact with objects in the day-to-day environment, primarily because HIV does not survive long enough when exposed to the environment. HIV is known to be primarily transmitted through sex, sharing-needles, and from mother-to-infant.

It sounds like you might be prone to worrying about HIV even though your risk for infection is questionable. If you find that your anxiety about HIV is disruptive to your life, consider seeing a mental health professional to discuss your concerns.

RMK



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