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possible needlestick in garbage bin-already donated!!
Sep 6, 2009

Hello dearest Dr.Frascino,

I am aware about my fear of HIV and am seeking psychotherapeutic help but, at the same time, this is a forum where people also understand the fear of others. If you think the following is ridiculous posting then I am sorry in advance and will never post again. My situation is as follows: I was having a take-away pizza on the street and wanted to throw the box after I had finished eating and I did so in a street garbage bin, one however next to a health-care setting, ie a hospital. As I was trying to place the box right into the bin I was careful not to touch anywhere but when I returned home later on I saw under my index finger a small scratch, with tiny-miniscule blood, and ofcourse for those who understand fear, I immediately thought there might have been a needle around or in the bin which came into my finger as I was putting the pizza box in the bin. The fact that this was next to a hospital increased my fear as people could dispose needles around those settings and also the area has quite a few drug users around. I did not see a needle then but the wound, though almost superficial, has now scared me and any internet search has resulted into contradicting findings about the possibility of HIV transmission. Assuming that was a left-over needle, causing a scratch with very tiny blood, would that be a case for HIV if that needle was earlier used by an HIV-positive person and was disposed in or on the bin causing a needlestick? Would appreciate your answer-hoping for a 'non-existant' one!!!. Many thanks in advance and all the best.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Your fears are once again unwarranted. Your HIV-acquisition risk is nonexistent. Hospitals dispose of needles in a very careful way in puncture-proof containers that are not dumped in street garbage bins! HIV doesn't live very long outside the body. The chances you received a significant needlestick with fresh HIV-tainted blood from dumping your pizza box in the garbage bin is nonexistent. You report you did not feel a stick. Plus, your wound is microscopic with "tiny-minuscule blood." Consequently neither your risk nor your wound is consistent with a significant HIV exposure. I see absolutely no cause for concern. HIV testing is not warranted.

I'm glad you are getting counseling for your irrational fears. Recognizing that these fears are irrational is half the battle. I think you're making progress in that regard. Bring a copy of this question and my response to your next therapy session and discuss it with your psychotherapist.

Be well.

Dr. Bob



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