Anonymous
I'm a community worker and I'm afraid that I might have been exposed to blood from a homeless patient yesterday. The person was leaving the hospital when I witnessed him falling into the street. I assisted the man in getting to his feet so he would not be hit by a car. I noticed that his elbow was bleeding so I handed him some band-aids from my purse. About one hour later I noticed some drops of blood on my dress while back at my desk. I have eczema on my hands, so I became concerned about exposure. I reported the incident to employee health services and went to the ER. My blood was tested to establish a baseline health status and the results were negative for HIV and hep B and C. The ER doctor did not recommend PEP treatment and stated that my risk was low for HIV, about 1 in 100,000. I'm still worried. Especially since I don't know if the blood got on my hands and I have eczema. I used hand sanitizer directly after helping the man, but I did not wash my hands until about an hour later. Also, I did not get the name of the man, so I don't know his health status. Am I at risk?
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Anonymous
Hi there, and thanks a lot for contacting the AIDS Vancouver Helpline for you HIV/AIDS related health information.


It sounds like you are concerned about your risk of HIV transmission after having helped a bleeding man stand up after a fall. You say you noticed some blood on your clothing and you are concerned that your hands may have come into contact with the blood.

The situation that you have described is a Negligible Risk situation. This means that it can present a potential for HIV transmission because it ca involve the exchange of body fluids. However, there has never been a confirmed report.

Here are some of the reasons why your situation is Negligible Risk:

* HIV needs a human host to survive. Once HIV is outside of the body and exposed to oxygen it can no longer transmit. Any blood on you hands and clothing would be outside of the body and thus exposed to oxygen, making HIV unable to transmit.

* HIV needs direct access to your bloodstream in order to transmit. There was no direct access to your bloodstream. Superficial cuts, such as the eczema on your hands, simply do not provided the conditions necessary for transmission to occur. For superficial cuts to potentially provide direct access to the bloodstream, they would have to be actively bleeding and in need of stitches or surgery to repair. From what I understand, this was not the case in your situation.


I would encourage you to check out the following resources about HIV:

  • HIV Basics


  • Risk Assessment Chart


  • Thank you for contacting the AIDS Vancouver Helpline.

    Hilary


    AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online

    helpline.aidsvancouver.org
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