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Hangnail exposed to HIV blood


I had a hangnail that may gotten a few drops of blood from an HIV person when he held my hands for about a minutes. Am I at risk? Do I need testing?


Hi there,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about the possibility of HIV transmission given the event that a few drops of HIV positive blood had come into contact with a hangnail that you had.

From the information given, this scenario is determined to be of Negligible Risk (There is no evidence or no documented cases of transmission. However, there is a theoretical possibility of transmission under certain extenuating circumstances). This scenario is determined to be of Negligible Risk due to the theoretical possibility of transmission. However, this is extremely unlikely. HIV requires direct access to the bloodstream for transmission to occur. In the scenario you have described that you only have a hangnail, which we would not determine to be a wound that is deep enough to allow a direct access to the bloodstream. Although the blood that you had come into contact was supposedly HIV positive, there is a very small chance of actual HIV transmission in this event.

Please also consider the following:

HIV positive fluid that has come into contact with the environment or environmental surfaces becomes quickly rendered inactive, and thus, provides little threat to HIV transmission (1).

For these reasons, you may not need to concern yourself with immediate HIV testing, or PEP, yet, our Recommendation is for you to refer to a healthcare professional for more personalized answers.

All the best,

AIDS Vancouver Online/Helpline, Cody