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Contact with fresh blood

Jun 17, 2008

Dear Bob,

I searched the archives for a similar question but did not find one so, here goes. I've never been overly concerned about HIV, however, a month ago I was walking through the mall and I stepped in a small pool of fresh blood as I entered a store. There were a couple of police officers questioning some "dirty looking" guy who was bandaged up, so I know the blood was fresh. There was some white powder strewn on some, but not all, of the blood. Since this event, I've been having a very difficult time going on with my life. I'm thinking about it excessively and its effecting my life immensely. I've always considered myself a reasonable and well-educated individual, but the thought of being at risk of contracting HIV is overpowering my reason. If this individual was HIV positive and traces of his blood were tracked into my home, what, if any, risk would my family or myself be at? One example of my concern would be as follows: Traces of blood could be on the floor near my shoes, someone walks near the shoes, subsequently stands in the shower, drops the soap on the shower floor, then proceeds to use soap on face and, ahem, other body parts. Is there any risk here, or am I as paranoid as I think I am. Or what if I were to tie my shoes and then rub my eye? Please advise so that I can continue on with my life. And thank you so much for your time.


Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Brew,

Let me get this straight. You've always considered yourself a reasonable and well-educated individual. OK, if you say so. However, you've "never been overly concerned about HIV." Hmm . . . Brew, maybe you better reconsider those "reasonable and well-educated" adjectives, eh?

OK, so you are "having a very difficult time going on with (your) life," because you are "thinking about it excessively and its (sic) 'effecting' (sic) (your) life immensely." ". . . The thought of being at risk of contracting HIV is overpowering (your) reason." Well, Brew, no doubt the HIV pandemic can indeed be worrisome. It's the greatest infectious disease catastrophe of our time and our collective response to the worldwide tragedy has been abysmal. Our HIV awareness and prevention programs here in the U.S. have likewise been woefully inadequate (as your post so graphically demonstrates). So, Brew, let's examine the facts surrounding your situation and evaluate your HIV-acquisition risk, OK?

Now let's see, you were strolling through the mall and stepped in a small pool of fresh blood from a "dirty looking" guy being questioned by the police. You then freaked out, because you wondered if "dirty-looking guy" might be HIV positive and tainted blood could be tracked into your home and if traces of the blood could be on the floor near your shoes and then a family member could walk near your shoes and subsequently stand in the shower and then drop the soap on the shower floor and then use the now tainted soap on their face and "ahem, other body parts." Once again, Brew, I've got to wonder about that "reasonable and well-educated individual" description.

Brew, your HIV-acquisition risk is completely nonexistent, as apparently is your general knowledge about HIV transmission. I would strongly recommend you spend some time becoming "well-educated" about HIV/AIDS, particularly exactly how HIV is and is not transmitted. There is a wealth of information about that topic on this Web site, in its archives and on the related links. Once you've had a chance to digest that information, I have absolutely no doubt your fears will evaporate and will indeed become a more "reasonable" individual.

Be well Brew. Stop worrying and get informed!

Dr. Bob

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