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Dried blood on watch

Question: 

I work in a lab where I routinely draw blood. I am usually very careful and notice if there is any blood on my gloves or lab coat after drawing a patients. The same day after drawing an hiv positive patient I noticed dry blood in the the crevice of my watch. Though I routinely wash or sanitize my hands, I am worried that I could have infected myself. I routinely touch my watch during the day and even while eating. I also had a couple of small cuts on my hand that I am worried could have had secondary transfer. What are my odds of being infected? I had a rapid test 72 hours afterwards that said negative but I keep seeing symptoms that look like early acute infection.

Answer: 

Hello, and thank you for reaching out to the AIDS Vancouver Helpline.

It seems like you have some concerns about the likelihood of acquiring HIV from the described scenario.

It is important to remember that HIV is a virus that requires a human host to both thrive and survive. Thus, it is a human to human virus. Due to the fragility of HIV, once exposed to oxygen the virus becomes immediately damaged and is no longer transmissible. This is particularly important as one is unable to acquire HIV from inanimate objects that may have been exposed to HIV. You mentioned in your post that you have a handful of small cuts on your hand and are worried about the possibility of a secondary transfer. This activity would be seen as a No Risk activity as the HIV virus that was on your watch has been exposed to oxygen and the HIV virus cannot survive for more than a handful of seconds. With this taken into account, you are at No Risk of acquiring HIV.

It is great that you took initiative and pursued HIV testing! Here at AIDS Vancouver we recommend routine testing as it allows you to stay up to date on your current status.

Below I have attached a copy of a Transmission Equation Chart, which goes into further detail on the necessary factors that are required for one to acquire HIV. If the symptoms that you are experiencing continue to be a prevalent issue, it might be beneficial for you to partner with your personal doctor so the symptoms can be addressed in a proper and timely fashion.

HIV TRANSMISSION EQUATION

BODY FLUID
+
ACTIVITY
+
DIRECT ACCESS TO BLOODSTREAM
• blood (including menstrual) • unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse • vagina
• semen • sharing needles • anus
• pre-cum • mother to child (in specific cases) • urethra in the penis
• rectal secretions • open cuts and sores (in theory)
• vaginal fluids • other mucosal membranes
• breast milk • points of needle injection

= RISK OF HIV TRANSMISSION

Regards,

Chris, Volunteer