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fingernail scratch incident

Question: 

Back in May, I had an incident with a woman, I was walking very far away behind her, it was like a two minute walk since I saw her, she saw me far away and stopped and approached me. The point is that she physically harrased me, the what I suppose, wounds, that "outstanded" the more where some scratches that bled in my face, I assume they occured thanks to her fingernails. They didn't bleed like what a knife would do and when I cleaned them they didn't looked that bad like what I thought. My inner hypochondriac self is going to ask now, could this be considered as a risk? I know it sounds ridiculous and in reality, no one get's scared by a fingernail scratch, but I'm slowly getting paranoic. My mom that's a nurse and that took care of the scratches told me that once cleaned up, those wounds where just superficial scratches/wounds, they bled indeed but just because the epidermis got scratched off, not because there was access to my blood vessels and that they where the cause of my bleeding. From what I've researched, my wound of my cheek (the one that really stood out) had to been sewed in an emergency room in order to be considered as a high risk, and even then, I saw her way before the incident happened, I saw her several minutes and I know that HIV loses it's ability of transmitting once it's out of a human host and also that it dies almost instantly once it's out. Also that I don't recall feeling something "fresh" or "liquid" once she made contact with my face, also that some minutes later, if I remember very well, I don't recall seeing something "red" on her fingers, or something "enough" to transmit. From what I know, these where just superficial wounds (that healed up and dissappeared in less than a week) and don't impose any type of entry to the bloodstream and that now in current year/2019, hiv transmission only occurs in unprotected sex, drug use/needle sharing (here's where they put the "deep open wounds" category) and mother to child transmission.

I'm trying to look the most realistic side of this since my paranoic side it's telling me I should get tested. I just want some specialist to reafirm me that these affirmations I stated are true and that I should just leave all of these behind. I'm getting frequent panic attacks and I cry sometimes thanks to all this topic, please help me. Sorry for my broken english.

Answer: 

Hi there,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about your risk of HIV acquisition from the superficial cuts and scratches you received from an aggressive encounter with another person in which their finger nails damaged the outer layer of your epidermis.

From the information given, this scenario would usually be determined to be of Negligible Risk (There are no evidence or no documented cases of transmission). This scenario would only be determined to be Negligible due to the theoretical possibility of profuse bleeding with direct contact from your aggressor to your face (direct access to the bloodstream from one wound to another). This would only be in an extreme case where your cuts would be considered deeper than what you have previously explained. Due to your detailed explanation of the event that occurred coupled with your diligent research and interpretation of your scenario; we would determine this scenario to be of No Risk (HIV transmission is not possible in the given scenario).

The research you have done and the statements that you have made surrounding this scenario are correct. Your wound is considered superficial and thus does not provide direct access to the bloodstream (one of the requirements for HIV transmission). You do not recall seeing "red" on your aggressors fingers, which leads us to believe there was not enough blood present to warrant a threat of HIV transmission.

In your case, we would recommend there is no need for HIV test with the scenario provided, refer to a physician for other health related questions. If you are continuing to feel anxious or uneasy about an encounter, don't hesitate to visit your local physician for medical advice or HIV screening. It is always important to know your HIV status, and regular screening is important in maintaining good health.

All the best,

AIDS Vancouver Online/Helpline, Cody