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HIV risk from bleeding shopkeeper

May 14, 2012

Hi, today I purchased some food, and I noticed as I was taking the reciept that the clerk had an open cut on her finger which was bleeding (fresh, not dried). I didnt think too much of it at the time, but about 30 seconds later, I licked my finger to open a plastic bag, and I'm now very anxious. If I did have some of her blood on my finger, could I be at risk? I do have occasional bleeding gums and a mouth ulcer. I could not see any blood on my hands or the receipt, so if any it would be a tiny amount. Looking for any advice/ reassurance. Thanks so much.

Response from Dr. Hightow-Weidman

Hello there- I see no possible way that this could result in infection. There needs to be a significant amount of HIV infected body fluid passing from one person's body directly/immediately into another person's body. Also, the mouth does not contain the type of cells that HIV likes to infect. My guess is that you did not have any exposure to the blood from the salesclerk but even if a small amount got on your finger (which I would be shocked that you didn't notice) it would be unlikely (dare I say impossible) that that would result in infection. Take care, LHW

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