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Accidental reuse of needle during HIV testing?
Mar 14, 2011

Hi Dr. Bob, I've gone through the archives and have received some sort of comfort knowing that I am perhaps just crazy and NOT HIV positive! However, I just wanted to run this by you once more in hopes that you will be able to answer this 'question that never dies' in accordance to my particular situation. I had a blood test 5 weeks ago and have since developed swollen glands under my ears and have a red bump on the back of my throat. My throat doesn't hurt, but my glands are slightly sensitive and my Dr. (to whom I did not mention my HIV concern for the sake of not looking psychotic :) said that it was inflamation from a virus or cold. I've also had headaches on and off for about a week or so...I know that my risk is essentially non-existent, however, like I at times have been distracted at work and made mistakes on the job, could the nurse too have accidentally left the needle from the previous patient in the vacutainer holder and reused it to draw my blood? I had initially come to the conclusion that this was highly irrational thinking, but now with the onset of symptoms, I am having trouble convincing myself of this. Is it typical for ARS symptoms to show up after 5 weeks (even though the norm is 2-3, as you've mentioned)? If you could please give me your honest opinion, it would be very much appreciated. I'm so tired of living inside my head as I replay the situation over and over again. I will be sending a donation to your foundation upon submission of this question regardless of a response as I think you are a wonderful person for doing what you do. Thanks Dr. Bob!!! Accidental Reuse of needle during HIV testing? - Donation Submitted! (Submitted Mar 2, 2011) Hi Dr. Bob, I'm the crazy person asking for your opinion on my recent blood test 'exposure'...Just wanted to tell you that my $25.00 donation to your foundation was successfully submitted (if I wasn't a student I would have donated more! But every little bit counts right?) ! Hope you are enjoying your vacation, look forward to hearing from you when you get back!!! :)

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

My opinion (which, by the way, is always honest!) is that your initial conclusion that your fears were "highly irrational thinking" is right on target! Syringes are not reused. Your risk is nonexistent. Whatever is causing your symptoms, one thing is certain: it's not related to contracting HIV from getting your blood drawn! You're also correct: this is a QTND (question that never dies). As such, it also has an ATNC (answer that never changes): no risk!

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

Be well. Stop worrying.

Dr. Bob



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