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Blood in nose from a dry heroin spoon
Feb 28, 2012

Dear Doctor,

Let me start by saying that I have been to rehab, and have been sober for two years, and just took an HIV test although I won't get the results back for a couple of weeks. I am in a state of panic. I never injected heroin but I used to snort it by mixing it with water. The reason for getting tested is that I read an article that HIV can be transmitted through the blood vessels in the nose. On one occasion, I had found a spoon that someone had used to inject. It had dried up heroin in it. I was in withdrawal and made an idiotic decision to add water to it and snort it. I estimate it had been there for AT LEAST 4 hours, probably more. Like I said, I remember the contents of the spoon to be dried up. There were also a cotton ball or two on the spoon, also dry. Am I doomed?

Response from Dr. Fawcett

First, let me say congratulations on being clean today. It is true that HIV can be transmitted intranasally if there is blood in the nose (common with snorting drugs) and there is exposure to other fresh blood that is infected with the HIV virus, such as might occur with sharing straws or other snorting implements. HIV is a relatively fragile virus that doesn't do well outside of its human host. Chances are any virus that might have been in the blood did not survive. An HIV test is the only way to know for certain.

-David



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