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Over-Concerned, Slightly Ignorant health care worker

Question: 

Hello,
I am taking care of a HIV+ patient, whom now has developed AIDS. I was very careful with my encounter, I wore gloved and washed my hands with soap and water or with alcohol sanitizer. I just got a kitten and he scratched my fingers and hands and made little superficial cuts the day prior. I was in and out of this patients room but sometimes when I went to pick up his food tray I wouldn't glove up because I'd be in and out. He also has a incont. bowel episode that I had to clean but wore gloves. I know HIV is spread by blood encounters, and I saw no visible blood I am just paranoid because I have these superficial cuts and I am nervous somehow the virus got into it through out the day because I was picking up his food try and giving him water with no gloves on. Am I at risk if I do not recall any blood? Also, how long goes HIV live outside of the body.

Answer: 

Hello,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about your risk of HIV acquisition from casual contact with your patient. From the information given, this scenario is determined to be no risk (transmission of HIV is not possible in the given scenario). The casual contact with your patients food, water and feces pose no threat in terms of HIV acquisition.

Social or casual contact such as: shaking hands, hugging, kissing, sharing a toilet and sharing dishes are all methods in which HIV is not transmitted. Food and beverage handling is also not a method of HIV transmission even if prepared by a HIV positive person (1).

There can be a negligible risk for transmission should infected blood within the urine/feces come into direct contact with broken skin or mucosa; however, HIV is otherwise not transmitted through urine/feces (2). In this scenario, your gloves would have provided an adequate protective barrier between you and any present risk.

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

Best, AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Cody