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Please help me.
Oct 3, 2001

I am the desperte dental assistant that was stabed with a patients needle. You already answered my question. Thank You very much. I just want to ask You one more thing. The needle that I stabed myself with had blood on it, not in it, it was not injected in me, and it happened five minutes after it had been used. You said that i should get infectious desease specialist on the phone, but nobody wants to talk to me when I call. I went to my physitian, and he said that it is too late to take AIDS medication for prevention because 24 hours have passed. Nobody wants to help me, and I dont know what to do or where to go. You are the only person that can give me the advice. Please tell me is it posible that the virus died because it was on the needle not inside. Please, please help me.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Blood on the outside of the needle would indeed have dried in 5 minutes, making it potentially risky for hepatitis B, but not for HIV. It's the blood inside the needle that concerns me. When a needle is taken out of a person, blood comes with it, inside the needle, whether that's intended or not. If you're saying that you were pricked by the needle but that the syringe was not depressed and no contents of the needle had any contact with your bloodstream, then you are not at risk. Repeat: not at risk.

I assume, given your profession, that you've been vaccinated against hep B. If not, this is a really good time to start that 3-shot cycle.

If ID specialists have been unwilling to talk with you, I suggest that you think about how you've been addressing their staff members. If you are presenting yourself as an hysterical health care worker who's distraught over an exposure that took place more than 5 minutes ago, you may not be getting very far. Please think about writing out what you're going to say if you ever have to call someone for advice about this kind of thing in the future. I suggest something like this, "I believe I've just had an occupational exposure to blood, and need information about how to assess my risk."



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