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Blood in mouth
Oct 18, 2009

Hi Dr. Frascino,

I am having a lot of anxiety about a possible HIV exposure while eating food at a takeout restaurant. When the cook was grabbing a white plastic fork for me, he grabbed it by the business end. I then observed him wiping off the fork with a paper napkin and then handing it over to me. I also observed there was an open cut on his thumb that touched the fork, so he must have got some of the blood and fluid from the cut onto my fork. However, at the time my mind was on other things and the fork had no visible blood on it after I wiped so I just used the fork to eat. Now, days later, I realized I should not have used that fork and should have used another fork. What are the chances of HIV transmission in this case, if the cook turned out to be HIV positive? I had no gashes or cuts in my mouth or gums that I'm aware of, but I've read that HIV-infected macrophages and lymphocytes can readily penetrate the intact oral mucous membrane. Is this true?

Also, the anxiety is really impairing my daily functions so I'm wondering which type of HIV test has the shortest window period to give me the results?

Thank you.

Worried in NY

Information I left out (HIV on fork) (Submitted Oct 17, 2009)

Dr. Bob

Sorry, I also left out some information about my incident with the blood on the plastic fork.

One reason I'm fearful of HIV exposure in this incident is that the cook who got his blood on my fork was from Jamaica (this was a Caribbean restaurant), and I read that there is a major HIV epidemic in Jamaica and the Caribbean. So I think there is a higher chance the Jamaican cook is HIV+ than is the general population.

Thanks, Worried in NY

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Worried in NY,

Your HIV-acquisition risk is nonexistent. You don't need an HIV test, but you do need counseling (psychotherapy) to help you confront and conquer your totally irrational fears of acquiring HIV.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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