Jul 12, 2001
My husband is a police officer and very healthy but while searching a suspect the guy had a needle in his pocket and my husband was stuck with it the guy has full blown aids what are the chances of my husband cotracting the disease,
| Response from Mr. Kull
It is difficult to assess your husband's risk for infection because transmission through accidental needlestick exposures is a rare event and limited to healthcare workers (based on data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The risk for your husband getting infected would be similar, not equivalent, to a healthcare worker's risk during an accidental needlestick puncture; his risk is not similar to an injection drug user who shares needles for injecting drugs.
HIV transmission to healthcare workers does not commonly occur. One source estimates a .3% risk of HIV infection after a needlestick exposure to HIV-infected blood. Factors that might increase the risk of transmission are: depth of the puncture, size and type of needle (hollow-bore needles pose a greater risk), where the puncture occurs (vein and artery punctures are greater risk), and the viral load of the host. Punctures that produce spontaneous bleeding may pose a greater risk. A person who is in very early or late-stage of HIV disease is more likely to have a higher viral load, possibly increasing the risk to the person experiencing the needlestick injury.
If your husband's skin was punctured and there was HIV-infected blood in or on the needle, then he is at risk for infection. If the injury was recent, he may be eligible for post-exposure prophylaxis (see my response to "PEP" http://www.thebody.com/Forums/AIDS/SafeSex/Archive/Treatment/Q36972.qna). It is important that he talks with an HIV specialist about his options for HIV screening, early treatment interventions, and psychological support. It is also crucial that you engage in safe sex activity until you have a better understanding of the event and its outcome.
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