Apr 17, 2009
Hi Dr. Bob: I am an acupuncturist and I occasionally see patients with HIV. I saw a patient a few weeks ago and when I was taking the needles out one of the points really bled a bunch (maybe 1/2 tsp) (and no, I didn't get stuck). Also his meds can cause more bleeding-- I usually don't have to deal with much blood but this seemed like more than I'm used to. I double gloved and calmly wiped it up, disposed of my top layer of gloves with the cotton in it after the cotton was dirty and reapplied another layer of gloves to finish up and getting it to stop bleeding, which it did. After I took the gloves off left the room and washed up. I don't even think any blood got on my gloves, if so it was a small brush of an amount, it was mainly on the cotton. I didn't feel freaked out about it at the time at all, and just moved on with my day. About 2.5 weeks later I got a massive stomach/ flu type of thing, lots of nausea, some vomiting, headache. Lasted about 5 days, and is gone now (and my husband had JUST had something similar). Still, when I got sick I started to panic, get huge anxiety, like what if I did something wrong in my cleanup of this blood or something. Ever since I've just had these massive waves of anxiety and panic that I can't seem to clear. I'm thinking it's irrational, as I did use latex gloves. I Guess I'm just not used to being around fresh blood that I know is HIV positive although I know universal precautions says treat all as it is. So bottom line is, is there any risk here? When I am treating patients, especially those KNOWN to be HIV pos if I use gloves this is safe, right, even if it gets on the gloves....? Knowing that even if I got blood on my skin and it was intact that would still be OK. I keep freaking that maybe there was some cut I didn't see, some something that happened etc. etc. you know the conversation ad nauseum. The issue here is that I got freaked out by dealing with HIV in my head? Thanks i have so much respect for your site and what you guys are about and your shiny personality! I want to keep helping in the fight against HIV but don't want to become a basket case in the meantime myself!!
Response from Dr. Frascino
Your "panic, huge anxiety" and HIV fears are completely unwarranted. I agree your "thinking is irrational." Counseling may well help you confront your totally unwarranted fears related to HIV.
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