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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


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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