Exposure to HIV positive blood

Question

I am a nurse who was caring for an HIV positive patient. He had a left arm wound that was connected to a wound vac. The tubing became disconnected and when I went to reconnect it some of the fliud splashed out of the tubing. I felt a light mist but I do not think any blood went into my eyes or mouth. I was wearing gloves. I immediately went to the sink and washed off my face with antiseptic soap. I did not see any visible droplets besides a tiny drop on my scrub top. The fluid in the wound vac was mostly bloody but not frank blood. I did call the exposure hotline and was told they did not consider this a true exposure because my skin is intact and I did not feel it in my eyes/ mouth. I am 16 weeks pregnant and they did not recommend any preventative drugs or follow up. I understand the risk is low, but still worry. Since the blood had most likely been sitting in the tubing for several minutes, does this also decrease the risk? Thanks so much.

Answer

Hi,

I agree you did not have a significant HIV exposure and PEP is currently not warranted. However, all occupational exposures or potential occupational exposures should be reported to your occupational health division. An incident report should be completed and you should have an evaluation by an HIV-knowledgeable physician. That physician would advise regarding the need for treatment and/or follow-up HIV testing.

Dr. Bob