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Can you be infected from a bite on the hand?
Jun 21, 2004

A woman (possibly drug addict, don't know if infeced with HIV) attacked my boyfriend and bit him on the hand. None of her blood was there, my boyfriend had two teeth marks on his hand. Is it possible that he could be infected?

Response from Dr. Conway

It is theoretically possible that such an exposure could lead to the transmission of HIV if she were, in fact, infected. If none of her blood was visible and the injury did not cause your boyfriend to bleed, the risk becomes much less, however.

The key is for your boyfriend to have cleaned the wound thorughly as soon as possible after the injury occurred. It would then be important to see a health care professional for baseline testing for HIV (to exclude the fact that he may have been infected before this even happened). It would also be important to get testing for HBV and HCV.

As for the use of anti-HIV medications as psot-exposure prophylaxis, different places have different rules for this. In our province, it is possible that he would have been offered anti-HIV pills for up to one month if he presented for evaluation within the first day after the injury. Otherwise, the side effects and risks of the medication outweigh any possible benefits. In all cases, we would recommend anti-HIV antibody testing be repeated over the next 12 weeks to make sure transmission did not occur.

All of this being said, the risk of HIV transmission from an incident such as you describe is probably much less that 0.1%.



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