HIV - Prevention Expert Forum
HIV from Routine Blood Testing
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This forum is limited to prevention of HIV and to safe sex in general. All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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HIV from Routine Blood Testing

Dear Dr. Hunter Handsfield,

I got a blood test the other day and the tester laid the gauze on the arm rest after blotting my arm with it.  Then he picked it back up again and taped it to the injection site after blotting it again.  

I don't know exactly if there was blood on the armrest, but there were a lot of people who went before me and I'm a bit worried about this.

Can you please tell me if I need testing, or PEP or whatever?

Thank you a million.
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Welcome to the forum.  It's only by chance I am answering; Dr. Hook and I take questions randomly and pay no attention to request for one of us or the other.

For some questions, the title alone has enough information for an accurate reply.  That is the case here.  HIV is never transmitted through drawing blood.  It was rare even in the old days, before single-use equipment was routine, and even in developing countries.  It is probable that no such cases have occurred anywhere in the world in the past 20 years.

Now I have read your question. The nurse used normal procedures.  When I draw blood, I also lay gause on the site before withdrawing the needle.  This carries absolutely no risk of HIV.  It is unthinkable that the gauze would have been used on a previous patient, but even if it was, there would be no risk of transmitting HIV or any other blood borne infection.

You do not need testing and of course do not need PEP. (You wouldn't be able to find a legitimate doctor or clinic who would be willing to prescribe it.)

Regards--  HHH, MD
8 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you.

I saw that the gauze was new. I was only worried that it could have picked up infection from the armrest of the chair where it was placed previously and during.

But just to clarify, you say the gauze would not have transmitted infection to my injection site even if it were used and had infected blood on it

Thank you so much.
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239123_tn?1267651214
Nobody in the world ever caught HIV from contact with contaminated objects in the environment.  Even people who live in households of HIV infected people never catch it, despite many years of shaing bathrooms, kitches, eating utensils, beds, etc with the infected person (assuming of course they aren't also sex or needle-sharing partners).  You need never worry about catching HIV from any doctor visit or medical procedure.
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Avatar_m_tn
I just wanted to clarify one last thing before I'm completely at ease.  The thing that worried me most was the gauze touching the contaminated arm rest of the chair where the nurse rested it twice before putting it on my arm. So it's completely unlikely that any small blood spray from a previous patient could have gotten on the gauze from the chair and then contaminated my injection site?

I'm sorry to make this multiple rounds, I just wanted to be as clear as possible about what I was worried about?

I'm sorry I won't bother you again after last worry.  Please let me know what you think.  
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239123_tn?1267651214
I understood that.  It makes no difference.  The gauze could have been dripping with wet blood from an HIV infected person.  It would not have put you at risk for infection.
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Avatar_m_tn
Even if it had HIV blood on it, and the wound is a deep needle wound?  That's so interesting.  Is it because it takes a fair amount of the virus to infect a person?  This is the part I don't understand.

Thanks,

SW
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239123_tn?1267651214
"...because it takes a fair amount of the virus to infect a person?"

That's the main reason.  But the biological reasons aren't important. The important fact is that nobody in the world has ever been suspected to catch HIV in this way. You're not going to be the first.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks HHH! You're the best!

ScaredWimp
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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University of Alabama at Birmingham
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