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Am I at risk? blood/mouth contact in lab
Dec 12, 2001

I work in a lab. While working with a tube of hiv + blood, I felt something stinging my tongue. My instant reaction was to pull my hand to my mouth. I still had gloves on but there was some blood on the glove. I immediately tasted the blood and reported the incident to my supervisor. I am undergoing the testing, but am still confused about the risk of contracting hiv. I am constantly biting on the sides on my mouth so I know I have breaks in the skin. Please tell me what you think? I'm very worried.

Response from Ms. Breuer

You are doing the right thing. Your message doesn't indicate whether the blood on the glove was just a smear (likely to have dried) or a more substantial amount. But informing your supervisor and undergoing testing is appropriate. I would describe your risk as low, depending on the amount of blood that was on the glove, but there is some risk. I've never heard of anyone being infected quite this way; the lab technician exposures I know about that have led to infection involved much more substantial amounts of blood. You might want to contact the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care ( to ask further questions, since they specialize in dealing with this sort of exposure.

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