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Needle Stick HIV/Hep exposure
Oct 23, 2001


I am a newly hired ER tech. The other day I took a blood sample from an HIV+, Hep B+ patient. After incorrectly withdrawing the needle, the tip of it tapped my glove and i believe it pierced my skin, although i didn't feel any sharp sticks. 10 minutes later, I examined my hand and noticed a small red scratch/dot near where i suspect the needle tapped my glove. I waited so long bc i didn't suspect that the needle actually penetrated the glove, but after a few simulations i did after seeing the patient i realize that the needles are so sharp that a simple tap may indeed penetrate both glove and skin which is what i fear happened. I tried to bleed the wound at this time but no blood came out. Anyhow, i reported the needle-stick to empoyee health and they started me ona regimen of kaletra,stuvadine, and luvadine (not sure exactly how this last one is spelled) 3 hours post exposure. THey told me that it was a low risk stick but from a high risk patient with high viral loads. I am obviously concerned about what happened and was hoping you could give me an estimate of what the chances of seroconversion are in a high risk source and low risk stick (without scenario such as my own. btw, the needle-stick doctor said that i am on a different regiment than most (ie. AZT, etc) becuase her straing has become immune to those other treatments. Do i have to worry about the strain becoming immune to the regimen i am currently on?

also, i was wondering... since some of my immune system's energy will be devoted toward fighting off HepB will that compromise the amount of resources that might normally be available to combat the HIV? are there studies on such situations?

thanks for all the help and time you devoted to answering my Qs.



Response from Dr. Feinberg

There is no way to calculate your prcise risk of either hep B or HIV from what sounds like a relatively low-risk exposure, but hep B is far more contagious than HIV, so the odds are higher that you'd get hepatitis than you'd get HIV. If you take the post-exposure meds as prescribed and the source patioent's virus is susceptible to these meds, then you won't become "immune" to the 3 meds you're on.

My employer and co-workers found out I have hep C
irony at its best

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