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Sex Or Not??

Apr 15, 1997

I have read many of your questions and answers,and feel alot more at ease. But I'm still unsure. I was poked by an unknown object while wipping down base- boards at a local health building. The room I was in was the H.I.V. Bio.lab. This happened on a Sunday and i went to the doctors on Monday. They drew blood for HIV and H-B. then gave me shots for H-B. I asked the Doctor the risk of having sexual contact with my wife and he said because of the low risk rate not to worry about it. Its only been seven days now and im still waiting for the test resaults of just the first test. Im very sexualy active and want to know if i should wait out the 6mo.test period. I do not want to harm my wife!!! P.S. I have not been able to sleep but am very tired. And have had a headace for the last 5 days. And i do not get headaces that often. Just nerves or what? Thank you for all you info on this page.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

Without knowing if you were exposed to blood or not, it's hard to say just how much at risk (if any) you were at. It's my general advice that if you were possibly exposed to blood, then assume you're infected, until follow-up tests at 6 months prove otherwise. It's better to be too safe, than not safe enough. Assuming you were exposed to blood, you would be at much greater risk for Hepatitis B and C, as compared to HIV. Both Hepatitis B and C can be sexually transmitted. Keep in mind that your Hepatitis B shots will not protect you against Hepatitis C, nor HIV. I have personally seen a case where a healthcare worker was occupationally exposed to HIV through a needlestick injury. She was told that her risk was low and "not to worry", and that it was OK to have unprotected sex with her husband. Her baseline HIV test was negative. At her 3 month test, she was found to be positive. She therefore needlessly exposed her husband to HIV. I want to avoid similar exposures like this in the future. So my suggestion is that if you may have been occupationally exposed to HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or other bloodborne pathogens, to assume you're infected. Practice safer sex with all of your partners for the next 6 months and do not donate blood, nor share needles with anyone. If you were not exposed to blood on the job, your risks of infection were very low. It's up to you whether you want to use condoms with your partners or not. But when in doubt, assume you're infected until follow-up tests at 6 months prove otherwise.

The issue of follow-up to an occupational exposure is addressed in the question, "Significant Exposure - Health Care Workers" .

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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