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Transmission by Scratching Someone?

Jun 22, 2009

Hello Dr.! I'm hoping you can help relieve my anxiety (I have OCD), and I will definitely donate to your wonderful cause. A couple weeks ago, we went to a restaurant. The server went to put my 2 year old's plate in front of her, but couldn't reach all the way. I extended my hand out to grab her plate, and I felt my fingernail snag the server's hand. Later on, I asked if I scratched him, and he said no. But I was thinking he could have just said no because maybe he was embarassed or didn't want to make a big deal out of it. But I know I snagged his hand. What I'm worried about is, if I broke his skin and got some of his blood under my fingernail (which I didn't see any blood, but imagined a microscopic amount), could the blood enter under my fingernail, even though I didn't have an open cut? If I cut my nails too short or break one, they start bleeding. This leads me to think there's no skin under the nail, just blood. My OCD is really bad. I put band-aids on my hangnails or wear gloves, because if I caught anything, I'm afraid I'll accidentally give it to my toddler. Sorry this is so long! Do you think it's possible I could have gotten HIV that way? Thank you for your time!

Response from Dr. Frascino


Your worries are completely irrational and totally unwarranted. Even if the server was HIV positive and he scratched you (rather than you scratching him), the HIV-transmission/acquisition risk would remain nonexistent. Your problem is unquestionably OCD, not HIV! No way. No how. No HIV tests are warranted. I would, however, advise you seek help for your OCD, as living life with such fears can't be easy!

Thanks for your donation to the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation ( It's very much appreciated!

Be well. Stay well. Stop worrying. And remember HIV is not your problem!

Dr. Bob

I had a dream about you... +Question
Thank you from Hopelessly anxious

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