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Crisis: Possible Hepatitis B/AIDS exposure w/co-worker
Feb 6, 2004

Thank you for taking time to answer my questions. I have three specific incidences with a friend of mine that might have put me at risk for Hepatitis B and hopefully not AIDS. In my job I work heavily with files/folders. Therefore, my co-workers and I usually get cuts and etc when working. One of my co-workers who I have recently become friends with always complains of being sick (ex. Flu-like symptoms, and fatigue) I notice that my friend has skin rashes and pigmentation all over their face. Also, my friend complains of skin rashes on back and chest. (I know you cant diagnose AIDS by the symptoms) And I feel guilty for even thinking negatively about my friend with no real proofYet I will continue. First Incident, I have cut myself on the same folders as this individual. More so, we have used the same lotion from a squeeze bottle on hands after receiving cuts. Second, I am in between a root canal on my tooth, and have an open sore in this tooth that has bleed before. I notice that when I talk to my friend, he spits when talking and I have felt this spit hit my lips before. Final Incident, my friend had some sort of tongue irritation and reported that after brushing their tongue.blood appeared early that morning. My friend told me this right after I had drunk from his class later in the day. I hope I didnt sound ignorant or prejudice in any way. But I would like to get some info from a professional. Thanks

Response from Ms. Breuer

Nothing you describe puts you at risk of coming into contact with HIV. The only remote risk of coming into contact with hepatitis B or C--and it is very remote--is cutting yourself on the same file folder. (You'd have to cut yourself on the same place on the file folder, and your co-worker's blood would have to be on that file folder, to create any risk.)

I suggest that you set up a new practice in your workplace, one that I wish all workplaces would follow. Whenever a file folder gets blood on it, replace it with a new one. If you cut yourself on it, but there is no blood on the folder, then don't worry about it.

Keep using that lotion. The more healthy your skin is, the less likely it is that you will get cuts and splits from working with paper and files, which draw a lot of moisture out of your skin. As to drinking from the same glass, I'd advise that you stop doing it. But not for the reason you may assume. It sounds as though your friend has a struggling immune system for some reason (and you're right--you can't diagnose anything from such vague symptoms). Avoid challenging that immune system with your own germs.

Ignorant people are the ones who don't ask questions. Bright people ask questions!



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