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HIV infection in healthcare setup

Question: 

I had went to lab for blood test 7 months ago. After drawing the blood lab assistant put a pre used cotton ball on my elbow from where blood is spilling out. The cotton he used contains blood from the person who might has visited earlier. I know the cotton contains blood because I noticed red spot on it but I don't know why I have not reacted at that time.

I had a joint pain that occurs after 2 weeks of a possible exposure. I had pain in my Knee, elbow and fingers joints at regular intervals(5 to 15 minutes). My joins pains for 10-30 seconds and stops suddenly and next pain attack comes some where after 5 to 15 minutes. There was no swelling or redness in any of my joints. This pain lasts somewhere between 1 to 1.5 months. I do not experience any other symptom.

I had ignored that symptom considering various articles on internet suggesting transmission does not occur that way. But recently I come across the news that scientist has discovered that HIV can live long enough out of human body in blood and can cause infection. Which makes me concern about the indecent after 7 months. Can you please let me know am I at risk. Which test should I opt for considering 7 months has already passed to the indecent.

Answer: 

Hi there, and thanks a lot for contacting the AIDS Vancouver Helpline for you HIV/AIDS related health information.

It sounds like you are concerned about your risk of HIV after a cotton ball containing blood was put over your needle prick.

The situation that you have described is a No Risk situation. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • HIV is a Human-to-Human virus. It cannot be transmitted to you by an object, such as a cotton ball.

  • HIV needs a human host to survive. Once HIV is outside of the body and exposed to oxygen it can no longer transmit. There have been scientific studies undertaken to see how long HIV can survive outside of the body. It is important to realize, however, that these studies are conducted in a controlled laboratory environment nothing like our outside environment, and with concentrations of HIV that are not seen in a real world setting. Thus, it is not helpful to speculate how many seconds or minutes HIV could survive in on a piece of cotton. Therefore, it is safe to assume that any fluids containing HIV on the cotton that was placed on you was not transmittable to you at that time.

  • HIV needs direct access to your bloodstream in order to transmit. There was no direct access to your bloodstream. Superficial cuts, such as a needle prick, simply do not provide the conditions necessary for transmission to occur. For superficial cuts to potential provide direct access to the bloodstream, they would have to be actively bleeding and in need of stitches or surgery to repair. From what I understand, this was not the case in your situation.

HIV presents itself differently in different people, therefore we cannot comment on the symptoms that you have been experiencing. HIV is not diagnosed based on symptoms. I would, however, recommend that you contact your health care provider to discuss your symptoms and develop a treatment plan. Symptoms can be indicative of other viral infections.

Here at AIDS Vancouver we encourage everyone to make HIV testing a part of their regular health care maintenance routine. The only way to know your status is to be tested. When you visit your health care professional and they will give you the appropriate test. All HIV test are considered conclusive 3 months post exposure, therefore, any test that you take at this time will be considered conclusive.

I would encourage you to check out the following resources about HIV:

Thank you for contacting the AIDS Vancouver Helpline.

Hilary

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online

helpline.aidsvancouver.org