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Finger Cut
Apr 3, 2011

Hi, I am a dental hygienist and last week i cut my finger while working in the patient's mouth with an instrument (the pt. was bleeding; he had been tested for HIV last year and was HIV-, he also just got tested last week but we do not know the results yet). After my injury i got my blood work done and was put on 3 antiretroviral medications ( i was suppose to take them for 7 days but i skipped 2 days because the medications were making me sick ... and then started taking them again). Should i be worried about all of this??? How big is the chance of me getting anything??? (p.s. i did wash my hand right a way) Thank you

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Your overall HIV-acquisition risk from this type of occupational incident is exceedingly low. Exactly how low would depend on the patient's HIV status, viral strain and viral load and also on the severity of the blood-to-blood exposure.

Certainly if the patient had an HIV test run last week, the results should be available by now. The test can be run in a very short period of time. I would suggest chasing that down first. If negative, your risk would be significantly reduced to the remote possibility that the patient was only recently infected and still within his window period. I would advise discontinuing PEP if the patient tests HIV negative.

Regarding your post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) regimen, if PEP were warranted, a full course would be 28 days (not 7!). Perhaps you were given only seven days because they were waiting for the source patient's HIV test results? If the patient is HIV infected, stay on PEP at least until you see an HIV physician specialist who will perform a more thorough evaluation of your situation and advise you of your best options.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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