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Do you think this site is a bit paranoid?

Apr 7, 2009

I was looking up blood contact, I think it is very confusing, seems each site has different information and even within the same site the advice seems to be different. How can you tell if blood contact is significant and a risk? I have read many replies to it on here and it seems the advice somewhat differs on other sites. For instance, someone bleeds on you, risk? I have read stories here with TWO people bleeding say from a fight but you say the risk is very small. So in that scenario should they get tested? How do you decide when an exposure has occured. Thanks, and here is the link to the site that compared to your advice seems paranoid.


Response from Dr. Frascino


There are loads and loads of paranoid Web sites out there! Just as there are loads and loads of paranoid people out there. It is impossible for me to individually debunk every paranoid Web site, just as it is impossible for me to reassure every paranoid worried-well who writes in with some delusional and completely irrational fear of contracting HIV. There are just way too many "Grandma farted in her Barcalounger. Do I now have HIV???" Consequently the best I can offer is to consistently post science-based facts and common sense to battle HIV/AIDS myths, falsehoods and misconceptions.

Regarding blood-contact risk, obviously there are many variables to consider. For instance, the serostatus of the source person; route of exposure (needlestick, blood splash, wound-to-wound, etc.); viral load; viral strain; host immune integrity; etc.; etc.; etc. Evaluating all these (and many other) variables over the Internet with incomplete information is, not surprisingly, very difficult. That may be one reason you've read different opinions. The person writing a response may have been using different assumptions.

Here are a few facts that may help in evaluating the risk of blood contact:

1. HIV-tainted blood cannot permeate intact skin. Consequently a blood splash onto intact skin would not be an HIV risk.

2. For significant risk, an adequate quantity of HIV-infected blood must come in contact with non-intact skin (for instance, an open bleeding wound actively bleeding into an open bleeding wound).

3. Dried blood is not a risk, as HIV does not live long outside the body.

4. Even with significant exposure, HIV-transmission risk is still relatively low. For instance, I sustained a hollow-bore needlestick and laceration while performing a procedure on a patient with advanced-stage AIDS. My statistical HIV-acquisition risk was approximately 1 in 300! (Unfortunately I was "lucky" enough to be that 1 in 300!)

5. How do you decide if you've sustained a significant exposure or not? Check with your doctor. Also, when in doubt a single HIV-antibody test at the three-month mark is always available.

Hope that helps.

Dr. Bob

NY Firefighter offers thanks!

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