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"Bottlecap cuts"
May 23, 2012

Hi there,

Im very nervous about a situation that occurred awhile ago. I asked a counselor at the Minnesota AIDS Project about the risk in this particular instance, and was told that transmission in this fashion was unrealistic and I have nothing to worry about. However, Id like a second opinion, as I am still very worried.

My boyfriend works at a coffee shop, and the other day a few customers were having trouble opening soda bottles. These bottles have metal caps that look like they are twist-off, but they really arent (or are at least very difficult to twist off). Anyways, about five ladies tried to open these bottles after he rang them up, and when they realized it was too hard, they gave them back to him to open up. When he did, he ended up cutting his hand a little on two separate bottle caps due to their sharp corners. He said that they didnt bleed until he got his hands wet and soapy a little later on (but I doubt he was really paying attention, and maybe they did bleed right away). Im very worried that perhaps the customers had also cut themselves on the sharp bottle caps when they tried to open the bottles right before he proceeded to do the same and get cut twice. If one of the customers cut or scratched themselves while they were trying to open the bottles, there would be time for their blood to get on the caps while they continued to try to get them off of the bottles, so it wouldnt be a situation where they got cut and stopped grabbing the cap before the blood really started to flow. So I feel like there is a greater chance of blood being on the caps. Also, he got cut on two separate caps, only like 30 seconds (maybe less? Perhaps the customers handed them directly to him after trying to open the bottle and then he got cut right away) after the customers tried to open them, so double the chances. Due to this, Im worried that he may have been at risk for HIV or HCV. I get it that people probably cut themselves on everyday shared objects all the time, or even bartenders and other baristas getting cut on similar caps, and I havent heard of any cases of transmission in this sort of circumstance, but you never know, thus the anxiety. Should I make him get tested in three months? Or should I just let it go? He says Im worrying over nothing, since he said his cuts were not very big and only bled a little bit once he got his hands wet. Was this any sort of risk? Thanks in advance.

Response from Mr. Glenn

Thanks for your question,

The counselor you spoke to and your boyfriend are right. It's an open and shut case here.

One to ease your anxiety may be to think of this situation compared to cutting your hand with a knife (there's an undeniable cut there). If someone else did the same thing then both hands rubbed together until their blood mingled that would clearly be a blood-to-blood contact (direct and immediate).

However, in your boyfriend's case it was neither direct nor immediate. Because of this there was so little blood at play (if there was any at all!) to be talking about a real risk.

If you're still feeling anxious about this after getting three opinions that say there wasn't any risk, please consider that you're feelings my be coming from something else? Not real-life risk.

Hope this helps!

Erik



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