I have OCD and have had a recent fear of contracting HIV after an intrusive thought I got in the hospital I work out. I am in therapy but I just started and my disorder has not been this bad since about 3 year so please bear with me. I know just how ridiculous I sound but it's a hard disorder to rationalize.

I got over that instance in the hospital and accepted I didn't prick myself on anything but now I'm still scared. Alot of time when I'm walking down the street I analyze the sidewalk and get nervous I touched something like a needle. Today I was walking to the bus and I saw something that caught my eye and I kept walking back to analyze it. I saw brown twigs but I feel like I saw a silver needle in there (probably a sewing needle type thing? the length of a small twig) I'm not sure if my mind just forced myself to see twigs as needles because I am anxious or if there was literally something. I was gonna miss my bus so I forced myself to leave but I kept getting nervous I touched it. I was inclined to touch it in order to feel the sharpness but I can't know for sure if I did or not. I think my hand was towards my back I don't know my mind kind of blanks in this situations. Now I am fearful I am exposed and I don't know what to do. I am on my period so this is going to make me hyper paranoid, causing me to hand wash like crazy. I also recently pierced my nose so the blood from that nose ring is gonna stress me. This leads me to disinfect stuff and wash my hands a lot. I also have been withholding sex from my boyfriend because of my period and just general fear. Although we still do oral.

I don't want to live with the fear of a conclusive test at only 3 months because this fear will eat me up and so much in my life is going to happen within three months. I cannot waste it on stress. I was dead set on buying a HIV RNA test from as it says it is 95-99% accurate from 9-11 days past exposure. Is this true? A lot of people say this test is not for diagnostic reasons but then others say that this should be conclusive if negatively because it detects something else as compared to the rapid test. I want to get rid of this anxiety and enjoy my life right now but I can't it is about to consume me. I would go back and check the area with my boyfriend but the needle, or what I saw, probably got blown away. I'm trying to reassure myself that it probably was nothing because I have OCD and I convince myself so much bullshit all the time. However, I don't know i feel like I saw something and I don't know if I touched it. So, how should I go about testing? How do I keep my boyfriend and I and strangers I come in contact with protected. Thank you!

Also I read a lot of posts here and it seems like there is no risk because of air exposure. It's just now I'm stuck retracing my memory for clues as to whether or not it was a syringe rather than a actual simple needle.

Thank you. I sincerely appreciate all of the work you guys do here, it is very very helpful!
Hi there, thanks a lot for you questions to the AIDS Vancouver Helpline.

It sounds like you're really concerned about the possibility of acquiring HIV. We'll provide you with some information here that will help you better understand the risks involved in the situations you're describing, and give you a bit of information on the RNA test you're thinking about getting.

From what we understand about what you wrote it sounds like you were walking down the street, you think you might have seen a needle in some twigs, and aren't sure whether you came into contact with it or not. You said you were trying to get your bus, maybe saw or touched the needle, but then ended up catching your bus. If you ran for your bus and made it, how do you think you came into contact with the pile of twigs? Do you remember bending down to touch them? Do you remember touching the twigs around where you think the needle was? Did you see or feel the needle prick you skin? To us it sounds like you didn't even contact the pile of twigs, whether there was a needle in them or not.

Assuming there was a sewing needle in the twigs, there is still absolutely no risk of acquiring HIV, even if you pricked yourself with it. Once fluids containing HIV leave the body, it is very difficult for it to get back in. Even if there was blood on that needle (it sounds like it was a sewing needle, so there likely was not) and it did pierce your skin, there is no risk of HIV being transmitted in this situation.

Considering this is a no risk situation, we would say you do not need to get tested. Here is some of our information on the RNA test you're describing, however:

You'll see in the table that we say RNA tests are 90% accurate at 10-12 days, while that service claims it is conclusive (typically meaning at least 99% accurate) in that time. Considering the risks involved in what you've described and the cost of that test, we'd say it would not be the best option for you right now.

You say you've been diagnosed with OCD and are attending therapy sessions. Have you discussed your thoughts surrounding HIV with your therapist or your doctor? We would really encourage you to do so if you have not already. Talking to your doctor about your thoughts surrounding HIV would be really beneficial. Your doctor would also be able to refer you for tests and discuss results if you felt you wanted a test despite what we have discussed here.

Thanks a lot for your questions to the AIDS Vancouver Helpline. We hope you feel better soon.


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Test Name Method Window Period Conditions
Pooled RNA NAAT aka “Early Test” Detects viral RNA in blood of individuals who without detectable antibody levels yet 10-12 days In evaluation/research protocols. Follow up with Antibody test after 12 weeks is sometimes necessary (depending on how long after exposure the test is performed). Only available for MSM in Vancouver. Accuracy: 90% at 10-12 days, 95-98% at 6 weeks and 99% at 12 weeks |