« Go Back

Risk assessment

Question: 

Hello,
Thank you for your help. Here is my question ...I had a terrible ear infection so I went to see the specialist . The office was busy and chaotic . My concern was the doctor just grabbed some flexible scope and put it up my nose into my throat to take pictures . I don’t know if it was sterilized or not and now I am anxious .
Is there an HIV risk or Hep C risk from this assuming it was previously used on another patient?

Answer: 

Hello,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about acquiring HIV through unsterilized equipment. From the information given, this scenario is determined to be Negligible Risk. The risk level has a potential for HIV transmission as they could involve the exchange of bodily fluids, but there are no evidence or no documented cases of transmission.

The scenario mentioned above does not meet the three components of the transmission equation. The transmission equation requires HIV positive bodily fluid to have direct access into the bloodstream of an HIV negative individual through a high risk activity. In this scenario the equation is not fully satisfied as there may have been bodily fluid with direct access to the bloodstream through the mucous membranes of the throat, but there was no high risk activity involved. A high risk activity includes: condom less sex, sharing needles, unsafe tattoos or piercings, vertical transmission–from mother to child (in utero, during delivery, breastfeeding) (1). Please consider that HIV becomes inactive when exposed to the environment (2). HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on surfaces), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host (2). It is unlikely that the equipment at a doctors office would be unsterilized as sterilization is standard practice in these environments.

Recommendation: There are no evidence or no documented cases of transmission refer to Physician for more personalized answers.

Regards,

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Danielle