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Needle sticks and transmission
Aug 12, 1997

I am a surgeon. I was recently stuck with a suture needle. This happened one week ago. Since that time, my patient has tested positive for HIV with an Elisa, although the titer was very low. Western Blot pending. I am HIV negative. What is the risk of seroconversion at 3,6, and 12 months with this type of exposure?

Response from Dr. Cohen

To my knowledge, there has never been a case of HIV transmission as a result of a stick with a solid-bore needle such as a suture needle. The cases of occupational tranmission as a result of needle sticks occur as a result of sticks with blood-filled, hollow-bore needles. It's easy to see why. What little blood there is on a suture needle gets wiped off as it goes through the glove.

The risk of seroconversion from needle sticks is usually quoted as being in the range of 3 per 1000, but in your case I would say it is much lower. A negative test at 3 months would be extremely reassuring, and after 6 months there would be no need for repeat testing.



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