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shared needle - i'm very scared
Aug 8, 2005

on the 16th of july, 2005, a heroin-addicted acquaintence intravenously administered heroin into my right arm. in retrospect, a conversation i had with the aforementioned junkie preceding the injection incident should have revealed to me his great ignorance of blood born illness and safe injection practices. the needle he claimed to be fresh i now believe to have been used, only to be quickly rinsed with isopropyl alcohol, on several occasions. immediatedly after injection, several mosquito bite-sized hives sprung up around the injection site. this i shrugged off as minor urticaria. two to three days later, i suffered what i believed to be a cold, as i had a stuffy nose, sneezing, whatever. i get colds once every few years, no big deal. but the sneezing and sniffling persisted for two full weeks, during which time i noticed an increased allergic sensitivity to my pet cat. today, one day short of three weeks since the sharing incident, my nose finally seems to be normal. this alone would not scare me. however, in addition to the allergies, i've suffered my 1st AND 2nd outbreak of herpes of the lip during these three weeks. they were minor, but the 2nd was/is greater than the first, with visible inflammation and two small crusty scabs. also, today i seem to have acquired a red-brown spot on the tip of my tongue. oh, and during this three week period my acne flared up and subsided. now, i am currently taking sulfa trimethoprim for the acne. i've only been on it for 2 months, but 2 tests taken prior to the injection indicated normal blood counts. also, i've been working two jobs and have been running myself down quite a bit, so there are two possible causes for my suspected brief period of immunodeficiency. i suppose that all i want to ask you is this: am i a good candidate for the HIV test that doesn't require antibodies? i'm very scared of this virus i may have acquired, not to mention HCV, which is another subject altogether. . . thank you.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

The estimated per-injection risk of acquiring HIV from needle-sharing injection-drug use with a partner confirmed to be HIV positive is 67 per 10,000 exposures.

I do not believe you have had brief periods of immunodeficiency. Routine HIV-antibody testing is warranted at the three-month mark. (Testing that doesn't require antibodies is not warranted.)

HCV is indeed "another subject altogether," but you should be screened for this as well.

Good luck!

Dr. Bob



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