Possible Occupational Exposure and Testing
Aug 8, 2007
Hi - I am a police officer from Australia.
17 days ago I attended a car accident where a female passenger in the car received some cuts/scratches to her knuckles in the accident. Her fingers were bleeding quite lightly.
After speaking with the female, who touched the front of my shirt when talking to me, I noticed a small amount of blood on the shirt. I did not come into contact with her skin or blood - the only time I touched her was on the shoulder for a second when I was speaking with her. She was wearing a leather jacket.
I am now concerned that there may have been a small amount of blood on her jacket which I could have come in contact with and did not see as her jacket was black. I did not see any blood on my hands (although I did not check thoroughly) but afterwards I rubbed anti-bacterial hand gel into my hands just in case.
I had some small scratches/scabs on the backs of my hands from doing some work on the house. They were not open sores - they had formed scabs.
What is the chance of contracting HIV in this instance (I am not aware of the lady's HIV status)?
What is the earliest type of test I can take? Due to the anxiety I am suffering re. this I need to take a test as soon as possible - perhaps NAT / PCR? How effective would this be and when can it be taken?
In Australia, the laboratory that does the HIV tests (Ag/Ab) say that infection is excluded if taken 6 weeks or more after exposure however you say 3 months. Which is correct?
I thank you in advance for any assistance you may be able to offer me. It has been difficult to get this information where I am from.
Response from Dr. Frascino
Hello Anxious Officer,
Your HIV-transmission risk is nonexistent. HIV testing is not warranted or necessary. Gosh, if HIV were that contagious, it would have wiped out the planet long ago! You certainly do have a problem, but that problem is not HIV. It's fear of HIV, with the operative word being fear. Those fears are completely irrational and have led to anxiety. I urge you to seek counseling for your anxiety and irrational HIV fears. Review the policy and procedures manual for dealing with blood or other potential infectious body fluids. This issue will undoubtedly come up periodically in your line of work and at present you are not well equipped psychologically to deal with it. I would also suggest you spend some time perusing the wealth of information on this site and its archives related to HIV-transmission risk. I have addressed the issue of HIV testing and duration of the window period multiple times. You can easily review this information in the archives as well.
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