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HIV from reused lancet/needle?

Jun 28, 2013

Hi Dr Shannon,

About 1 and a half month ago I was tested for HIV. The test was negative and was supposedly to be conclusive. However after the testing, my happiness was short-lived. The thought of reused lancet/needle came into my mind. Even though I was reassured by the trained volunteers at the testing site that they do not reuse lancet/needle, a human error could always occur. After the testing about 3 weeks later, I had a flu and I developed a cough with phlegm. I shrugged it off as a friend of mine was having it and thought that he might had passed it on to me. However, about 1 and a half month later, I developed this rash on my chest and small bumps on my neck which went away in 2 days time. The rash could be heat rash as I was sweating a lot during that day. So do I have HIV? I am worried sick, should I get tested again? Perhaps this time I should use the oral quick test to prevent the scenario of contamination from reused lancet/needle?

Thank you Dr Shannon in advance for replying. I would really appreciate it if you could take some time to reply to my question. Thank you.

Response from Ms. Southall

Hi As someone who performs HIV testing using lancets, it is not impossible but highly improbable to reuse a lancet and really no reason to do this. There is a mechanism in the lancet to make it work. Then there is the reality of even if the lancet had been used before, first HIV begins to die once it leaves the body and is unable to infect, second HIV transmission through this manner carries an extremely low risk and lastly your test came back negative. Depending on what and when your risk was testing guidelines are to be tested 3 weeks post exposure and then again at 90 days and as long as there were no other exposures during this time the results are conclusive. If you symptoms continue I would recommend you follow up with your health care provider for evaluation.

Be well and stay safe, Shannon

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