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Jul 26, 2001

A close friend of mine working in a hospital environment had a patient spit blood in his eyes. This patient tested HIV positive. Now, this friend won't talk to me but tells me he is receiving treatments. I don't understand everything that is going on and need some insight as to whether he can be affected or not.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Your close friend does have the right to keep medical information confidential, so what you feel as "need " may be "want." I don't know about your relationship, so I can't tell. But in general, I can tell you that if someone working in a hospital has been exposed to HIV positive blood, the employee usually is offered a short course of treatment with anti-HIV drugs. That's now a common next step, and follow-up studies suggest that it may prevent an infection. Your friend will let you know whatever he wants you to know beyond that. In the meantime, if you're concerned about possible risk to you because of your friend's exposure, please take responsibility for protecting yourself. Okay?

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