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needle prick on the street

Question: 

Yesterday my ankle was pricked by a needle on the street - it didn't bleed. The emergency ward at St. Paul's gave me the 3 PEP medications to take for the first 5 days, telling me I'd feel sick and my liver and kidneys could be affected. I've got 2 hours to decide whether or not to take them (in the first 24 hours). Aids Vancouver would have helped with my decision, but they're closed today. I'm quite healthy and don't want to be sick for the next 5 days or ruin my liver or kidneys, but don't know what the chances are for HIV or how long it would take for it to manifest. I need help to make this decision.

Answer: 

Hi there,

We hope this reaches you in time.

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question you were asking about your risk of HIV transmission from a needle prick on the street.

From the information given, this scenario is determined to be High Risk (Evidence of transmission through these activities and is the majority of cases of transmission). Accidental needle prick's are considered to be of High Risk, and require immediate attention.

When PEP is utilized within the window period (72 hours post-exposure), it can be extremely effecitve in protecitng against HIV acquisition. For this reason, we highly recommend taking PEP for High Risk exposures such as accidental needle pricks.

Although you mentioned you are apprehensive about potential side effects of taking PEP, we would advise you to pursue this extra method of protection against HIV acquisition.

Recommendation: Please take PEP as perscribed, and seek additional HIV screening in the recommended 4 weeks post-PEP, with further screening at 12 weeks for completely comprehensive results.

All the best,

AIDS Vancouver Online/Helpline, Cody