Anonymous
During the removal of an Arterial line, alcohol pads/swabs were used with a compression band to compress the open wound of an HIV patient. However, blood had soaked the alcohol pads/swabs; thus, the compression band was removed and more were applied. During the process blood from the soaked alcohol pads/swabs (an potentially fresh blood) had been transmitted to my "glove-less" fingers. At the time there were no open wounds on my fingers I was aware of (This is assumed under the impression that hospital-use alcohol-based hand sanitizer did not cause any form of stinging sensation). My hands were washed twice utilizing a chlorhexidine-based hand soap. The time-frame between blood contact and hand-washing was approximately 30-45 seconds. I believe I am low risk, however, I would just like a second opinion.

1. There was a secondary contact point in which a significantly smaller amount of blood contact was made; however, only an alcohol based hand sanitizer was utilized? Would there be a high risk?

2. Can minor cuts with minimal bleeding put me at risk?

3. What do you consider a fresh wound? i.e. one that occurs within 5 minutes?

4. Can microscopic wounds transmit the virus? (keeping in mind excessive hand-washing may have worn the skin down)


Thank you for your time.
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Anonymous
Hi there,
thanks for contacting the AIDS Vancouver helpline with your HIV related questions and concerns. We're happy to help!

I understand this must have been a concerning situation, but hopefully my answer will help to alleviate your worries.

It's important to note that HIV is a weak virus which means that it cannot survive outside of the human body. upon exposure to the general environment, it becomes damaged and inactivated and it can no longer be transmitted to others (such as on the alcohol pads/swabs).

1) As stated, the virus would be inactivated. Additionally, there would be no point of direct access to the bloodstream for the virus to enter. In order to get direct access, you need a severe wound such as one that's gushing blood or requires immediate medical attention such as stitches.

2) No, as stated in #1, wounds must be severe.

3) It's not based on the time, but rather the severity of these wounds. Because of how unlikely it is to be in a situation where HIV transmission is possible WHILE dealing with such a severe wound, transmission in this manner is very rare.

4) No

You were at No Risk for HIV transmission! I hope this helped.

THis webpage regarding HIV and occupational risks may be useful to you: http://www.avert.org/hiv-transmission-prevention/working-healthcare

I hope this helped!

Sincerely,

Christina

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online

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