worriedgirl
Hello,

I had a HIV rapid blood test done at the clinic last year, negative results. I have worried myself sick (not sure why), that somehow the lancet that the nurse used might not have been a NEW lancet, therefore potentially exposing me to HIV from a pervious person before me. Do I have any reason to worry for this exposure at a reputable clinic in my city?

thank you so much!
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helpline-volunteer
Hi there,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you are asking whether there is a risk of transmission from sharing medical equipment such as lancets. 

Clinics are required to clean and disinfect patient care equipment, and dispose of single-use devices, thus the risk of cross-infection is very low. Additionally, as far as I can tell, there have been no reported cases of HIV spread via lancet holders in Canada (1). 

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. 

This particular scenario is a bit complicated in that there is a theoretical risk of transmission if certain requirements are met. For example, if the lancet was previously used, and then used on you immediately afterwards, there would be a Low Risk of transmission in this case. This is due to the fact that there may have been HIV positive blood present on the lancet, and there was direct access to the bloodstream

On the other hand, if the lancet was previously used, but some time had passed before using it on you, such that any blood present was dried, there would essentially be No Risk in this case. This is due to the fact that "HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on surfaces), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host" (2). Due to exposure to oxygen,  HIV undergoes a rapid reduction in concentration. Therefore, in the event that there was dried blood on the lancet, the virus would be rendered inactive following exposure to oxygen.

Given that there are many hypothetical scenarios in this case, I would say the risk of transmission is Negligible (There is no evidence or documented cases of transmission. However, there is a theoretical possibility of transmission under certain extenuating circumstances). If you are still feeling quite anxious after reading this, you could consider getting re-tested at another clinic, however, I don't think it's absolutely necessary in this case.

Recommendation: There is no evidence or documented cases of transmission. Refer to a healthcare professional for more personalized answers.

Regards,

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Ashley 

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Additional Resources:
HIV and Lancet Holder Use (1)
HIV inactive CDC (2)
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