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Cut from a Dental Bur

Question: 

Hi!
I am a dental student. I was treating a patient and cut myself on the bur I had been using to drill my patient's teeth. The bur may have also hit the patient's gingiva, although I genuinely do not recall weather any blood was drawn or not. (Dental burs look a bit like tiny drill bits). The bur attaches to our drill and sits upright in a holder while we are not using it. The bur was sitting in open air and I scraped the side of my finger on it as I was reaching for a different instrument. I did not notice the scrape until I got home later and was washing dishes and felt a sting. I didn't worry about it because the bur had been exposed to air, so I figured this made the virus non-transmittable, but my friends have been telling me otherwise and now I am worried. Even if there was blood on the bur, is there any risk of HIV transmission?

Much thanks

Answer: 

Hello,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about acquiring HIV through a scratch of a instrument possibly containing bodily fluid. From the information given, this scenario is determined to be Negligible Risk: There are no evidence or no documented cases of transmission. However, there is a theoretical possibility.

The scenario mentioned above does not meet the three components of the transmission equation. The equation requires bodily fluid, a high risk activity, and direct access to the bloodstream (1). In this case there was blood, no high risk activity ( these include: unprotected anal or vaginal sex, using shared needles, and breastfeeding while not on antiviral therapy), and a direct access to the bloodstream through a cut (1). Please consider this quote from CDC: "HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on surfaces), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host" (2). HIV becomes inactive when it is exposed to the environment such as blood on a bur.

Recommendation: There are no evidence or no documented cases of transmission refer to Physician for more personalized answers.

Regards,

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Danielle