Llamapyjamas
Hi,

I was recently in the hospital, and the doctor touched my bleeding heel with a gloved hand. He didn’t notice my foot was bleeding until he touched it—it had been scraping against the heel of my shoe. He then put extra gloves on so that he “wouldn’t spread” my blood, which is strange—why not put on new gloves? I think he was likely touching my feet with the gloves he used on the last patient. What if the last patient had been bleeding and the doctor hadn’t noticed? What if he touched my wound with gloves that had blood from someone else on them? Should I get tested for HIV?
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helpline-volunteer
Hi there,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about the risk of HIV transmission if your doctor's gloves had been soiled with another individual's blood prior to touching your wound. Based on the information provided, this scenario is determined to be of No Risk (transmission of HIV is not possible in the given scenario).

In order for transmission to occur, a number of requirements must be met (see below). 

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HIV transmission requires the presence of HIV positive fluid (such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-cum, rectal fluid, breastmilk, etc), coupled with a High, Low, or Negligible Risk activity, that provides the virus direct access to the bloodstream. 

The activity you described above is of No Risk as the transmission equation is not satisfied for two reasons. First, "HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on surfaces), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host" (1). Due to exposure to oxygen,  HIV undergoes a rapid reduction in concentration. Therefore, in the event that there was blood already present on the gloves, the virus would be rendered inactive following exposure to oxygen.

Second, based on the description given, your wound sounds more superficial (ie. it is not deep or bleeding heavily), therefore limiting HIV particles sufficient access to the bloodstream. 

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

Regards,

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Ashley 

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Additional Resources:
HIV inactive CDC (1)
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