Anonymous
Hi, i found this website thanks to Google ad i wanted to speak with a counselor. I was coming out of my girlfriends car and as i put my feet down on the ground right next to them i saw an uncapped Needle/syringe, like the one people use for heroine. I put my feet back in the car and i walked around it but Im still really scared it pricked me. I was wearing shoes and i did not feel a poke and when i took my shoes off i didnt see any blood. Can you tell me if theres any chance of me getting HIV, if i were to get pricked by it?
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Anonymous
Hi there,

Thanks for contacting AIDS Vancouver for HIV/AIDS-related information.

The short answer is no, not really. You should be fine. Let me explain why:

For HIV transmission to occur, body fluids containing HIV (i.e. blood) need direct access to your bloodstream through an activity like sharing injection needles or unprotected sex. It is a virus that needs a controlled environment to live, and does not live on surfaces (it can live INSIDE of a hypodermic needle if it is airtight, but not OUTSIDE of it). This is because HIV dies within 60 seconds of exposure to oxygen.

So, let's think about your situation. You saw an uncapped needle (which could also be used to inject insulin) and walked around it. You have no idea who used it and what their HIV status is. Rates of HIV infection among people who inject drugs is decreasing, thanks to needle exchange and the distribution of fresh needles in many places.

Now, thinking about the size of the needle you saw, don't you think you would have noticed if you had stepped on it? You definitely would have. And so I wasn't there with you so I can't say for sure, but sounds like you didn't get pricked.

Let me tell you something else to relieve you: It is exceedingly rare for needlestick injuries (i.e. being pricked by a needle) to happen outside of a healthcare setting. That includes random needles we find laying around. This is a very common fear, but it has no grounding in reality. Unless you are sharing injection needles with someone else, you are not placing yourself at risk. Here is something that confirms what I am saying: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2262128/Half-Britons-wrongly-think-HIV-bitten-spat-standing-discarded-needle.html

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to ask

Best

Maggie

AIDS Vancouver Volunteer
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