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Am I Worrying for Nothing?

Dec 8, 2008

Hello Dr. Bob.

I'm beside myself with worry lately and I don't know if it's valid. I think you might actually say there is a chance and to get tested.

I went to In-N-Out the other day and paid at the first window; the woman handed me my change. I pulled up to the second window and got my bag of food, drove off. All was well. I have a nervous habit of biting my cuticles and I guess I bit a little too deep because my finger started to bleed. I tasted blood. (At home I later verified that my finger was, indeed, bleeding.)

I started thinking what if the blood wasn't mine and just a coincidence. What if the lady who handed me my change got blood on my thumb and it was that blood that I was tasting????

Needless to say I freaked out. I know you say that HIV does not survive long outside the body, and it was about a minute from the time I paid until I was biting on my thumb. Would you say I had anything to worry about? Should I get tested at 3 months from this possible exposure?

I'm freaking out and I desperately need any kind of assurance that you could give. What are my chances?

Thanks for everything.

Response from Dr. Frascino


You know you bit your cuticles to the point they were bleeding and you tasted fresh blood. Why in the world would you then freak out about the remote (essentially nonexistent) possibility that the blood wasn't yours? As Dr. Spock from the original Star Trek would say: "That's illogical!"

Do you need HIV testing? No, certainly not from a medical perspective. However, if psychologically you continue to freak out, despite my reassurances, you should get a single HIV-antibody test a the three-month mark. The results will undoubtedly be negative, but if it puts your (unwarranted) residual fears permanently to rest, it may be worth the time and effort psychologically. The only risky health-related issue I see in your post is eating at In-N-Out Burger!

Be well.

Dr. Bob

Thank you

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