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Risk of HIV transmission from a HIV+ person`s bleeding wound
Mar 11, 2012

First of all, thanks for what you`re doing. I`m sure anyone who needs to know anything about HIV, from infected individuals to hypochondriacs alike, are very thankful to you guys.

My question is whether or not I should worry after helping a bleeding HIV+ man... I think I know the answer, but I don`t trust my own answer enough to feel relieved.

So... The guy had fallen down on the street very recently when I helped him, (could be anything between 20 seconds to 10 minutes prior), and he had fresh, bleeding wounds on multiple spots, including the hands and face. I opened the door for him and helped him go up the stairs by taking him by the arm. I don`t know if he used his bleeding hands to hold the door handle just before I held the door handle for him, but he held onto my shoulder in order to keep standing. I was also worried that his blood could spill on my eye since he`s a lot taller than I am, but I don`t think it happened. I guess I would have felt it, right? I tried my best not to touch his wounds, and I didn`t have any visible wounds on myself, definitely none that was bleeding at the time. But being the clean freak I am, I use hand sanitizer a lot, so having skin cracks on my hands wouldn`t be too surprising. I didn`t notice any blood stains on my clothing, and didn`t notice any blood of his splattering on my person either. So if I had any direct physical contact with his fresh blood, it would be accidental, but I have no way of knowing for sure if that accident happened or not.

He`s taking medication for schizophrenia, so his HIV+ status might as well be imaginary after all. (I know him personally, and my perception of his HIV+ status is based on his words, not my anxiety-driven assumption). Assuming he`s truthful and really is infected with HIV, and I had cracks on my skin that weren`t bleeding at the time, and I somehow happened to get into direct contact with his blood inadvertently, should I be worried in this scenario?

Note that I used (I think) hand sanitizer on my hands after the incident, but no soap and water.

He was hospitalized on December 13th, so I know the incident took place before that date, which means over 2 months ago. If I have pain in my lymph nodes or other initial infection symptoms now (the stuff that`s expected to appear 2 weeks to a month following exposure), should I attribute it to this incident or would they be somatoform? Am I pretty much safe in terms of HIV transmission or is it worth getting tested *just for this incident*?

Again, I realize I`m probably worrying too much, to the point of getting on people`s nerves, but when I know the man has HIV and he`s bleeding that much right by my side, I can`t help seeking reassurance from a professional. You`ll make me very happy by stating my only problem starting with h is not HIV but hypochondria!

Response from Ms. Southall

Hello there OK so yes you are worrying too much! From what you have described HIV transmission carried a very small risk. Even with cuts on your hands, they would have had to happen at the same time of helping him out. Your body minutes after receiving a cut or scratch puts protection in place for things to enter it. There also wasn't a lot of blood from what you described in the scenarion for there to be a chance for transmission.

I would recommend you getting tested for your peace of mind. It sounds like this would help your mental health and give you a sense of peace that you need.

Be well and stay safe, Shannon



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