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HIV transmission
Apr 14, 2001

My question is directed to a specific incident. I am a health care provider and last week while cleaning the sheets off of a client's bed, I realised that part of the sheet that I was touching was wet. (The sheet was not saturated or dripping)I immediately ran to the restroom and washed my hands with soap and water. I have discovered that what I was touching was semen. The incident occurred no more than five minutes after the client left the room, so exposure to air was not that long, although I understand that the virus begins to die upon contact with the air. My worry is that I have quite a few hangnails where possible infection could have occurred. (?????) I was wondering if you could let me know if there is any risk involved in this situation, and if there is, how high is the risk? Thank You.

Response from Mr. Kull

There is no direct evidence that anyone has gotten infected by semen coming into contact with their hand. There are so many factors that make it unlikely that you were infected. On the most basic level, the semen would have to have contained viable HIV AND have access to your bloodstream. Any time you come into contact with infected fluids, there is a theoretical risk, but in this case, the probability of infection is extremely low.

Using latex gloves when coming into contact with patients or their clothing/bedding can help to reduce your fears of infection.

RMK



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