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Blood got on my hand and I can't function....
Mar 25, 2009

Hello Doctor

Im at my wits end. My panic attacks have culminated due to a new incident involving blood from an unknown source, and now I basically want to drive my car into a tree just to escape these worries. Can you please help me? Heres the situation: I work at a place where I sort through second- hand clothing that people bring in, and today I picked up a tote bag that a young woman had just brought in for me to look through. I grabbed it, set in on the table, and noticed that I had a little (3-4 millimeters wide/tall) glob of blood on my knuckle. At first I thought it was my bright red lipstick that had somehow smeared off, but that is more pinkish than what was on my hand. I looked on the bag, and sure enough, there was a little blood spot on it, soaking into the bags fibers. I touched the glob on my hand with a nail, and it seemed to be beginning to congeal, it was a tiny wet blob. In touching it, I kind of rubbed on my skin a little by accident. Upon discovering that it was most definitely blood, I panicked, and poured alcohol hand sanitizer all over it, rubbing it off. I thoroughly inspected the area for any cuts in my skin, and didnt see anything obvious. However, my skin was rather dry, as it usually is. I want to know if HIV in the blood could enter my body through microscopic cuts too small for me to have seen, or if, to contract HIV, I would have needed to have a deep, fresh, actively bleeding cut that would have been obvious and large enough to be easily seen. Once again, I didnt see any obvious breaks in the skin in the area the blood was on. Was this scenario a risk for me? I am spiraling into a deep depression. Do I need to be tested? Please, please answer, I just cant take this anymore.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

HIV cannot permeate intact skin. Your fears of "microscopic cuts too small to be seen" are irrational and unwarranted. Your HIV-acquisition risk is nonexistent. HIV testing is not warranted. However you do have a significant medical/psychiatric problem that definitely does warrant intervention! Comments, such as ". . . I basically want to drive my car into a tree just to escape these worries . . ." and ". . . I am spiraling into a deep depression" and ". . . I just can't take this anymore" clearly demonstrate the need for immediate psychiatric help. I urge you to get the help you clearly need without further delay. Bring a copy of your post and my reply to show to the psychiatrist. It will help focus your therapy and speed your recovery.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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