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Worried!
Jan 14, 2009

I'm an ophthalmic assistant. My husband and I are actively trying for a baby. The other day I had an HIV positive patient interested in Lasik. I took corneal thickness from her (gloveless)and a significant amount of her tears got on my fingers. I didn't have any noticeable cuts on my fingers, and immediately washed them afterwards. I've read a lot of places that you can't contract HIV through tears, but it has also been proven to have some HIV in it. 1. Should I be worried for me and my possibly unborn child? 2. Should I from now on wear gloves when handling an HIV positive patient? 3. Why is it that HIV can be found in tears, but not likely to be transmitted that way?

If you could please answer my questions I'd really appreciate it. I know It's best to have low stress when trying to conceive and I can't help but worry.

Thank you so much.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

1. No, absolutely not.

2. You should follow "universal precautions" with all patients. HIV patients should not be treated any differently from any other patients. Please note 25% of the over 1,000,000 HIV-positive folks here in the U.S. have absolutely no idea they are infected with the virus. Consequently you really never know who is and is not HIV infected.

3. It's primarily a concentration factor. The bottom line is that tears, just like sweat, do not transmit HIV. Your worries are totally unwarranted.

Dr. Bob



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