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Truly sorry for the continuous hounding...but still worried : (
Aug 17, 2010

(I just donated some money to your foundation. This was not done in an effort to get you to answer my question, but out of a true desire to help the cause, and out of respect and thankfulness for the amazing work you do not only here on the forums, but out in the thick of things!I just wanted to let you know.)

Hi Doctor! Simply put, I'm freaked out, and I need someone to tell me if I'm being a nutcase or if there is any cause for concern. Here's the scoop: I work in a resale clothing store where I sort through used clothing that people bring in to sell. Today, I was taking a look through some items a woman had brought in a few minutes earlier. I laid a track jacket on the sorting counter and smoothed it out, and instantly felt a sharp little itchy prick on my finger. I didn't think much of it, and continued looking through the other items in the bag. I then noticed that the little pinprick was bleeding a tiny bit. Now I'm worried, since I have no idea what could have pricked me. I looked through all the items in the bag a second time to see if I could find the offending object, and didn't find anything sharp, nor did I feel any sort of syringe body, but I wasn't tremendously thorough due to being in a hurry. It literally could have been anything! Now my thoughts are racing: what if it was a needle stick from a needle that was stuck inside the jacket and poked through the fabric of the jacket and into me? Or even part of a needle? Once again, I didn't see anything to suggest this, but I never found the thing that pricked me, and I didn't check the inside of the jacket, only the exterior, so I may have missed something. I read that the rate of infection for a needle stick injury is .3%. I have myself convinced that I was indeed stuck by a needle I never found. The wound did bleed a tiny bit, but now, about ten hours later, I can't even find the wound, so it must have been really little. Is there any reason for concern? Can HIV be spread in this fashion? Finally, should I be tested, or am I just being paranoid? Please help quell the crazy (if it's present, of course!) Thank you so much in advance.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

"I need someone to tell me if I'm being a nutcase of if there is any cause for concern." OK, you've come to the right place. The answer is nutcase, definitely nutcase. Comments such as "I have myself convinced that I was indeed stuck by a needle I never found" add evidence of your looney-tunes wackiness.

HIV is a fragile virus that doesn't live very long at all outside the body. I should also point out that despite current fashion, not every used track suit previously belonged to a drug-using, HIV-infected gang member. In other words the chance you were stuck by a drug syringe is remote. That the syringe, if it existed, contained HIV-tainted blood is even more remote. Plus your incident with the nonexistent syringe would have had to expose you to an adequate amount of HIV-tainted blood to cause an infection, in essence injecting an adequate amount of blood into you. Add to that the fact the HIV-tainted blood in the nonexistent syringe would have to be fresh and you should begin to realize that the chance of this series of circumstances actually occurring is nonexistent. Right? Of course right!

Regarding HIV testing, it's not medically warranted. However, if my reassurance is insufficient for you to put your irrational worries permanently to rest, a single HIV-antibody test at the three-month mark may be helpful psychologically. The result will unquestionably be negative.

Thanks for your support of The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). It's warmly appreciated.

Be well. Stay well. Yes, you are indeed well!

Dr. Bob



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