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risk for getting tested?

Oct 22, 1996

Two weeks ago I was tested for HIV. When the nurse drew my blood, she used a new needle and a new glass tube for the blood. She also used a yellow plastic tube that seemed to hold the glass tube that my blood was going in. When she finished, my blood was put into the appropriate container and the needle was put in the red sharps container. What is concerning me is the yellow tube. I noticed that it had blood on it (I assume mine), and it appeared that they were using these over and over. Could I have been exposed to someone's blood through this incident? What are these plastic tubes? Do they have any contact with the needle, etc? (my HIV test was negative)

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. First of all, let me say that I'm always glad to hear when a person tests negative for HIV.

The yellow tube you're referring to is used to hold the glass tube in place when blood is being taken from a person. These tubes do not have contact with the parts of the needle that enter your body. These "holders" are re-usable. Normally, it should not have blood on it. If it ever did have blood on it, it can easily be washed off before it gets used on another person. This is standard infection control practice.

If blood ever did get onto this tube, the only way you could theoretically get infected is if another persons blood on the tube got directly into the opening where the needle went in your body. Since the yellow tube normally does not come in contact with the cut from the needle, normally there should not be any risk from infection with HIV, or other bloodborne diseases. Another thing to keep in mind is that the HIV virus does not survive outside the human body for more than a few minutes.

So in order for you to become infected under these circumstances, the following would have to have taken place:

The person whose blood was drawn before you would have to be infected, and their blood would have to get on the yellow "holder".

The healthcare worker would not clean the holder, which would be a major violation of infection control practices.

That same tube would have to be used on you within minutes after the last person.

Somehow, the blood on the tube would get into the opening of your cut after the needle was withdrawn.

Theoretically, almost anything is possible. But realistically, the chances of all 4 occurances happening would be extremely unlikely. Therefore, unless all the unusual circumstances above occured, you would be at little, if any, risk of infection with HIV.

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

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