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Acupuncture Needlestick: possible exposure?
Aug 13, 2007

Hi Dr. Bob!

I am a practicing acupuncturist in the Philippines. I understand that the danger of needlestick transmission of HIV comes from the fact that blood is preserved in the hollow of syringe needles. Acupuncture needles, on the other hand, are not hollow. My case is as follows:

I was treating a 54 year old charity patient. My assistant removed the needles from the patient (no gross bleeding) and accidentally pricked me ever so slightly on my thumb. I squeezed the area and about two drops of blood came out. I then cleaned the area with alcohol.

I spoke to the patient who admits to an affair in the early 80s and was treated for gonnorhea. Since then, he says he's learned his lesson and never strayed. He has worked in the middle east but still denies any more liaisons. I would have wanted to have him tested for HIV but he was lost to follow up. Anyway, the Infectious Disease Dept in our hospital said that this was low risk. Besides, the specialist said, if he had HIV from that early 80s experience most likely he would have felt something by now. As such, PEP was not warranted.

It has been 6 weeks hence. I am wondering if an antibody test at 13 weeks is warranted? Most other doctors I've talked to said that it isn't.

What is your opinion on this matter. I will be sending a donation in advance.

Sincerely,

Stylostixist (look it up)

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Stylostixist,

I agree with the advice you received. Your HIV risk would be negligible at best. However, if you are worried, a single three-month rapid HIV test would give you a definitive result in as few as 20 minutes.

Thanks for your donation (www.concertedeffort.org).

Be well, Stylostixist.

Dr. Bob



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