HIV - Prevention Expert Forum
Help to understand risk
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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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Help to understand risk

Dear Dr, I know this is my last Q for 6 months and hopefully when I begin counselling I won't need to ask anymore Qs. I know my Q will probably be terribly frustrating, but the reason I can't get over my OCD is because I have trouble knowing what thoughts are 'OCD thoughts' and which are not. I developed a phobia over fear of contacting blood in the environment, to the point where if I look at an object I will visualise the blood in my mind. I am not a homophobic but I feel that because gay people are in high risk category for HIV I get nervous in case I contact their blood. At the movies there was an employee who ripped my ticket on entry, I thought he was possibly gay. When I later glanced at the ticket it flashed in my mind there was blood on it. I would say the ticket was larger than a credit card - maybe 1.5-2 times the size. I visualised blood taking up a large amount of the ticket. I showed the ticket to my friend to check and he said it was fine, though I'm afraid now I didn't show him both sides. For there to be any risk, would the ticket have to be dripping with blood,to the point my friend (and me) would have noticed straight away and it wouldn't matter which side we looked at?I know this seems crazy but I read a thread where someone helped someone with HIV who had a stab wound, and the Dr said there is some risk if you get a lot of blood on a small cut. Since I get cuticle cuts and probably other kinds of small scratches or cuts without noticing I became worried about this. I am sorry as I know this Q is probably very annoying!
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As in your other discussion with Dr. Hook, these are entirely "what if" questions -- somewhat outlandish, unrealistic scenarios.  The details of whether and how long HIV can survive in the environment are unimportant.  The only relevant fact here is that HIV probably has never once been transmitted through the sorts of contact you are asking about.  Nowhere in the world, never.  

Here is how you will live a life without any chance of catching HIV:  Choose your sex partners with common sense; use condoms for insertive sex (vaginal or anal intercourse) with new or non-monogamous partners; and do not share drug injection equipment with anybody else.  That's it.  There are simply no other risks for HIV that you should ever worry or think about.

There will be no ongoing discussion; there is nothing you can add that would change my opinion or advice, so I won't have anything more to say.  However, I do recommend the obvious:  please get the psychological counseling you so obviously need.  Your thoughts on all this are way off the normal scale, and I fear they could be signs of serious mental health disability in the future.  Act now to prevent that.

Best wishes--  HHH, MD
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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Edward W Hook, MDBlank
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