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HIV phobia blood draw



I know it is irrational, but I just could stop worrying. I had an HIV test at a clinic (not hospital or Lifelab). After I done I started to worry about the needle used to draw my blood. Although I saw the nurse open the package and take out the needle, I still feel it might be used. I know it sounds very irrational, but I can't stop thinking about it.


Hello and thank you for your inquiry.

From the information given, your situation is determined to be No Risk for HIV transmission, meaning HIV transmission is not possible in the given scenario.

Since you saw the nurse open the package and take out the needle, it would be rational to assume that this was a sterile needle that had not been previously used. It is highly unlikely that a clinic which provides HIV testing would be motivated to risk infecting patients by re-using HIV testing needles. If we entertain the possibility that they were re-using needles for some reason (lets say cost reduction), it is unlikely that they would go to the effort of resealing the needle in its original packaging.

There was a rare case in 1999 where a phlebotomist in Palo Alto, Calif, admitted to reusing needles 5 to 10 times to draw blood. In 2001, researchers studying this case constructed a model for the risk of infection per blood draw, supplemented by subsequent testing results from 1699 patients. The study results suggest that needle reuse posed a very low infection risk for HIV, HBV, or HCV. In the best-case scenarios, the risk of acquiring any infection was 1 in 1 million or less for a single blood draw. (1) This case was an anomaly and does not represent common practices in medical clinics.

You do not mention what type of activity led you to pursue HIV testing in the first place. It is important to note that there is no risk involved in being tested for HIV while there could potentially be a high risk to avoiding HIV testing.

Recommendation: No need for HIV test with the scenario provided, refer to a physician for other health related questions.

Regards, AIDS Vancouver Helpline Volunteer, Dyson