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Risk?
Sep 18, 2002

Dear Ms. Breuer,

You repeatedly say that dried blood does not transmit HIV. What if an "evil" person cuts himself with a sharp object and uses the same object to cut another person before the blood dries? What are the risks?

The following scenario is what happened to me. As I was out of a bar, a drunk guy came along and somehow we shook hands (i was not very drunk). He did not let my hand go and held it firmly, and I had to use force to get my hand out of this handshake. The next morning, I discover a small (1 mm. long) paper cut on the knuckle of my fourth finger. Now I am quite worried, because two scenarios come to my mind:

1. The guy cut me with something that had his blood on during the handshake,

2. I already had the cut before the handshake (probable - because I was working with papers all day doing a survey with people), and somehow he had blood on his hands - and we managed to have an exchange.

What do you think my risks are? Are there such evil people giving other people HIV+ blood? (ie. needles in cinema seats)

Thank you very much for your response. I should add that I have had an HIV scare in the 3 months before this incident (two negative tests), and have a feeling that stress and fear caused by these tests have made me paranoid. Am I right? Should I worry about this incident?

Response from Ms. Breuer

If I were you, I wouldn't spend much time in bars. You're jump-starting your anxieties there.

Most HIV transmissions are the responsibility of people who are not evil, but sloppy. The case you describe is not a transmission scenario. If he had cut himself, had HIV and was deliberately cutting you, you would have been assaulted with a weapon. Most people being assaulted with a weapon know it. It hurts right away. Yes, I think your fears are in the fast lane. If you're concerned about possible transmission from "evil people" in bars, find another way to socialize that doesn't give your imagination the same kind of exercise. And please don't pay attention to the tabloid stories about needles in cinema seats. When it comes to something as serious and important as HIV, you deserve real news from real newspapers.



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