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caregiver exposure

Jul 12, 2005

I help to care for my mother who is in the final stages of AIDs. Last night she fell and reopened a wound on her arm. We didn't know she was bleeding and I knelt down to help her up and got her blood on my arm. I quickly put on gloves and tended to her wound and cleaned myself up, but is there something that I should be aware of or perhaps that I should do at this point. I don't believe that I have any wounds that could have allowed contamination and I am very aware of how AIDs is spread, but I have never been exposed to her blood before. How often is AIDs transmitted to caregivers?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

I'm very sorry to hear about your mother's condition. She is very lucky to have a daughter by her side, as she makes her transition.

Regarding HIV transmission to caregivers or anyone who comes into contact with the over 40 million of us on the planet at the moment, HIV cannot pass through intact skin. Consequently, getting some of your mother's blood on you arm would not constitute an HIV transmission risk, assuming your skin was not compromised by an open wound.

Can AIDS be transmitted to caregivers? Yes, I'm a prime example of that unfortunate and rare situation. However, please note this is an extremely rare event. Even in my case -- in which I sustained a deep hollow bore needle stick and laceration while performing a medical procedure on a patient with advanced-stage AIDS, my risk of actually seroconverting to HIV-positive status was 0.3% (i.e. 1-in-300 chance). Your risk in caring for your mother is minimal to nonexistent, if you use common sense and truly are "very aware of how AIDS is spread."

Please give your mom a hug from me and save one for yourself as well. Your compassion and love for your mother in her time of need has not gone unnoticed.

Dr. Bob



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