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occupational exposure
Dec 13, 2010

Sir, While making an arrest about 5-6 weeks ago of a known hiv+ male who had the blood of his aids diagnosed girlfriend on his arms and hands (domestic violence) I made contact with my hands to handcuff him. I did not have a chance to put gloves on as things escalated so fast. Once the male was secured I checked my hands and could not see any blood or open wounds. I was told that this was not a significant exposure by the powers that be. No exposure report. I spoke with a doctor who also helped me to understand statistical/research infection possibilties. 2 weeks later I was hit by a bad flu bug going around no worries at this point. However, over the last few days the lymph nodes in my neck have swelled up and I have a very mild cough. I admit that I am very worried at this point and plan to get tested after window period. I have never had any issues with my lymphatic system before and am usually very healthy. I have just started my career and family. I am concerned on how I would afford expensive tretments and antivirals. I would certainly lose my job/insurance. I have been sexually active only with my girlfriend for over a year. I have been doing a lot of research and discovered this wonderful page with the great advice from very wise proffessionals such as yourself who are dedicated to spreading information to everyone. I am wondering what your proffesional opinion on my situation is? I have found your answers to be the most informative. Thank you...

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

I agree with the assessment you received from "the powers that be": no HIV-acquisition risk. This assumes the skin on your hands was intact.

Symptoms are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected.

If you remain worried, get a single HIV-antibody test at the three-month mark. The result will undoubtedly be negative, but if this allows you to put your (unwarranted) fears permanently to rest where they belong, it will be worth the time and effort involved.

Stop freaking out about losing your job or the expense of antiretroviral treatments. Let's just take this one step at a time, OK? To sum up, your risk is nonexistent and your HIV test, which you will get for psychological reasons, will be negative. If anything other than that transpires, write back and I'll help you with next steps, OK?

Good luck.

Be well. Stay well. Noel?

Dr. Bob



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