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HIV from needle share
Feb 11, 2014

Hi, I'm just curious to know why the risk from sharing needles for HIV transmission is as low as it is, I mean overall it is the highest risk of all, but it is still 0.67 which is less than 1% or 67 per 10,000 episodes. I would have thought that once blood with the virus in it enters your bloodstream, its a fait compli - is it actually possible for HIV virion to enter your bloodstream through a vein and you not get infected? How is this so?

To me this means that the highest risk of all with HIV (injecting HIV infected blood in to your bloodstream directly) is still such a low risk and that maybe Govts etc do exaggerate the REAL risks of aquisition. The risk to anyone of dying of any cause in the next year 1 in 100. Im not trying to trivialise as obviously it the impact if the risk eventuates is extreme, however I am curious as to how such a high risk activity can somehow still only be less than a 1/100 risk (and thats if the source is known HIV infected). What factors contribute to the vastly outweighed 99+% chance that after injecting HIV blood in to a vein you will not get infected?

Can you immune system eliminate the virus before infection takes hold in some cases? For that to occur I would have thought anti-bodies would have to be present.

Can you please explain. I am sure many others would also be curious about this - an again, I am not trying to trivialise, just to understand. Because if one had to make assumptions here, it would appear that HIV is indeed quite hard to get leading me to theorise that exposure has to be cumulative for infection to take hold.

You do not have to publish this if you do not want to as I do not want people to get complacent as a result of my question, but I am doing a paper on risk and HIV (after my own scare) and this issue ha me curious. Please do respond straight back to me though through my email. Thank you.

Response from Mr. Glenn

Thanks for your question,

The full reasons on why transmission occurs are not completely understood. It's not as simple as you come in contact then *boom* you're infected.

You're right, HIV is relatively a hard virus to get. But public health officials make sure that people know the risk because, even though it's low overall, we have A LOT of risky activity happening around the country all the time. So that 67 per 10,000 episodes becomes a bigger deal when the number of episodes gets into the millions, billions, trillions, etc. And it's very important for use to address that.

And to your other point, repeated exposure to HIV makes it more likely to be infected because one of those times it's going to stick (not because each time is building something up in your body).

Hope this begins to address your question. There's really a lot to it!

Erik



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