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5 times before Blood Drawn - HIV Concern

Dec 21, 2009

Hello Doctor

I admire the work that you do and the meaningful service that you provide. I am happy to donate $50 to your Foundation, and another $50 when I am convincingly reassured that I am HIV-negative. This is my story:

I deep kissed a HIV-positive girl on Nov 1, 2009. No oral/anal/vagina sex. Clothed as well. Just kissing. But because of the fear that she is HIV-positive, I went to get tested at 6.5 weeks at Planned Parenthood, and was HIV-negative. But due to irrational fear (and my first visit to an STD clinic), I became anxious about how my blood was drawn. When the nurse inserted the needle for the first time, she could not get the vein so she took it out and several seconds later, re-inserted the same needle to another vein a few inches apart. Again, she could not find a vein. She threw the needle away. She then asked her colleague who did not used gloves and poked me another two times (same needle) and she failed too. The nurse supervisor then came and she found the vein the very first time. I was pricked a total of 5 times. I naturally became worried about possible contamination and about improper practice (negligence). I was so dazed that a million and one things raced through my mind. My post-doctoral studies have been affected by this. My hand is also numb and in pain.

1. Am I worrying needlessly? I am now worried about being infected by the very thing I went to get tested for. Can I get HIV or even Hepatitis B or C from this episode? 2. Should I get retested again? 3. Is it normal for the same needle to be reinserted into the same person to find the vein to draw the blood from?

Appreciate your advice and reassurance.

Many thanks, WorriedBoy

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Worried Boy,

I'll address your specific questions first:

Yes, you are worrying needlessly, and no, you cannot acquire HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C from the episode you describe. No way. No how.

No. There is no medical justification or rationale for repeat testing. (In fact, there was no medical rationale for your getting tested initially!)

As long as the needle is not contaminated between pokes, it would not be a problem. (Personally, I would prefer to change needles; however, from the information provided, I do not see a risk for transmission/acquisition of blood-borne pathogens (HIV, hepatitis).

I should mention that your statement, "I was pricked a total of 5 times," could, out of context, be considered to describe an HIV risk. But that would necessitate a completely different type of "prick" doing the poking!

Finally, regarding donations to The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (, while always appreciated and urgently needed, they should be made only in a spirit of generosity, compassion and desire to help others less fortunate than ourselves. Donations should not be used as an inducement to get an answer. Nor should they have qualifiers attached: ". . . another $50 when I'm convincingly reassured I am HIV negative." I have no way of knowing if you are convincingly reassured or not. My job here is to provide science-based information. And that I gladly do without strings attached. OK?

Bottom line: Your worries are completely unwarranted.

Happy Holidays.

Dr. Bob

HIV, flatulence, and hunger

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