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Bitten at work
Jun 12, 2001

My colleague at work was bitten by a patient who is HIV positive, obviously this has concerned her. What is the likelihood of her contracting the virus, bearing in mind the bite broke the skin?

Response from Dr. Jackson

There has been at least one case report of HIV infection being transmitted by a bite, but the overall risk of infection from a bite is unknown. HIV can be detected in the saliva of some patients who usually have advanced disease. The likelihood of infection is probably dependent on the depth of the bite and the stage of disease of the patient. However, even needlesticks with HIV contaminated blood that punture the skin have a likelihood of only 1 in 300 of transmission so I doubt the risk is higher than that from a bite.


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