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Club Bouncer's Worry
Jan 8, 2004

I am a security guard at a night club. 2 and half weeks ago, an altercation broke out at the club where i was working between a female and a male, strangely both of them had long fingernails. I intervened in the scuffle and in the process while attmepting to hold the woman back, she dug her nails into the back of my neck to the point that it pinched. I do not know if i bled as i only saw marks and it was on the back of my neck. I know that she had also scratched the male. Should i be concerned about HIV or HCV.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Ouch! Fortunately, fingernails--long or short, dirty or clean--do not transmit HIV or HCV. A true exposure would have resulted only if she had managed direct contact between her own blood and your bloodstream or a mucous membrane. Your greatest vulnerability in altercations would be your eyes.

If for any reason, someone's blood splashes directly in your eyes, then please get yourself to an ER right away to be evaluated for exposure to HIV and treated. Immediate treatment (begun within a few hours) can prevent an infection from becoming established.

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