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I am dying of Anxiety.

Oct 12, 2013

Hello doctor. I have read alot about HIV especially on this site but still have concern about what happened to me in about two weeks ago. I work in a group home and i was asked to go and pick up some client from the day program. As we got there, one of the individuals was in the bathroom but am not sure which one of them. Both of them came out and i helped them fasten the seat belt after one of them was struggling with it but i cannot remember touching any fluid and i did not have any cut on that right hand palm. I was told in the office that the guy has HIV and masturbates as well and i became terified because i have never worked with such reality. I went to the bathroom and washed my hand with soap which i believe is antibacterial may be not. Later on i started thinking about all my moves around the guy and i later saw a scrape of my light top skin below my left finger nail. This happens to me all the time without anybody scraching me and i could not see any blood or redness in it. My concern is, is it not possible that while he just masturbated in the bathroom (which am not sure of) came out with dried or semi-dried semen, he used thesame hand to touch the belt while i touched it and that took about 15min before getting to the office and that while i was washing my hand, the virus might mix with the soap and penetrated into that light scrape on my skin because i read that if one has a tining cut, the virus may come in. I am so worried to the point that i used glove to hold his hand afterward and i remember he was checking something on his toe nails after they cut his toe nail that if there was blood in his hand i was holding with glove, i may have any risk while washing my hand later. The whole thing is just affecting me and i keep having imaginations about everything. Is it through that when semen is dried or somebody who masturbated now and wipe his hand with tissue and come out within two to 5min cannot transmit hiv and how long can the virus survive in that situation. Please, i am dying of hiv anxiety. Note, i did not touch the guy's skin only that i touched the belt he was touching and i cannot say that i felt any liquid in my palm. Would you recommend HIV test in this situation? Thanks in advance.

Response from Dr. Wohl

If you are to work in a helping profession such as assisting at a group home for persons with disabilities you need to know the facts.

Foremost, you treat everyone the same. You do not know for sure who is HIV positive and it could well be there are other clients with this or other communicable diseases. That is why you and I practice Universal Precautions. That is, we assume everyone has the potential to harbor a blood borne pathogen. We wear gloves when contact with body fluid is possible and even mask and glasses when a splash is possible.

In this case, your response should be no different than if the other client you helped that day touched you.

It also is important that you know how HIV, HBV and HCV are and are not transmitted. You not get HIV through your skin unless you have a large gaping wound and fluid teeming with virus dripped into that wound. That does not sound like what happened in the car.

Further, HIV is not transmitted from inanimate objects that are not dripping with fresh blood.

With these facts you will feel safer and better able to handle the situations you encounter at work.


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