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blood on hands

Jul 27, 2001

I was recently exposed to the blood of a known HIV+,HCV+, and HBV+ individual in a health care setting. Only a small amount of blood got on my hand and I had no visible cuts/wounds on my hand (at least that I could see). Immediately after the incident I washed with antimicrobial soap. Is it true that the skin of the hand is a good barrier for these viruses? I was advised at the time that there was essential no risk of transmission involved being as there was no needle stick, etc. and it was only blood on a seemingly intact surface. Would you agree with this and how do you feel about the integrity of the skin on the hands.

Thank you for your response.

Response from Mr. Kull

It sounds like the information you received was accurate. Your skin--including the skin on your hands--serves as an effective barrier to the bloodborne viruses you describe (HIV and hepatitis B and C) if there are no visible cuts or lesions on the surface of your skin. Getting infected blood on your hand is not totally safe, so wearing protective latex gloves when working in a healthcare setting is advisable.

Since you did have blood contact with a person who is known to be infected with HIV and hepatitis B and C, it would still be advisable to get a test three to six months after this exposure, just to be sure. If you remain HBV negative, you may want to get vaccinated to prevent infection in future exposures.


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