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Can you get HIV though the eye

Question: 

I work in a medical center and i was tasked to "spin and plate the bloods" as i was doing this i was using a glass capillary tube in which it snapped and a drop of blood got into my eye, i spoke with the doctor who she said it is a low chance of getting it but i was wondering what is the chance i could get it and if there is a similar case

Answer: 

Hello and thank you for contacting AIDS Vancouver Helpline.

We are happy to address your inquiry about your risk of acquiring HIV when a drop of blood entered your eye at your work place.

Occupational exposures are classified as low risk for HIV transmission, meaning that there have been a few reports of infection via this route.

You do not mention if the blood involved was known to be HIV positive. Let's assume that is was. According to a paper published in 2005: "Although still a hazard, the probability of HIV transmission with accidental exposure is low, with risks below 0.5% for percutaneous hollow-bore needles and less than 0.1% risk for mucus membrane (eye) exposure." (1) If the blood was of unknown status, then the risk would become even lower. "A health care worker cannot be infected with any blood borne pathogen if the source of the exposure does not carry the virus. Most of the exposures that occur in our Hospitals and Health Centres do not carry the risk of any of the viruses mentioned. (Hep C, Hep B, HIV)" (2) The most important thing to remember is that the risk of getting HIV or Hepatitis C from a needle stick or other exposure is quite small. As an example, there were 57 documented cases and 138 possible cases of occupationally acquired HIV infection among healthcare personnel in the United States since reporting began in 1985. No new documented cases of occupationally acquired HIV/AIDS have been reported since December 2001.

Following a an exposure to blood, it is recommended to wash your eyes with a steady stream of clean water, saltwater solution (saline), or a sterile irrigant.

In the future you might consider wearing protective eye wear when handling blood samples to prevent a similar incident.

Although your risk is very low, we do recommend HIV testing as a precaution.

Regards, AIDS Helpline Vancouver Volunteer, Dyson