HIV - Prevention Expert Forum
Size of cut for exposure
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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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Size of cut for exposure

Dear Dr, thanks for your help on this website. I suffer from anxiety and am currently receiving medication but something is on my mind which I think could be solved if I knew what size of a cut I would need to get for a blood transmission. I know that exposure to HIV (and other bloodborne diseases) is  theoretical via things like razors. If I had gotten a bad cut from a razor would this change things? Or would it not really be possible to get the kind of injury required for HIV transmission, via a razor, as it can't puncture you? Sometimes I manage to cut myself around the ankle and it can be a rather bad slice, which is why I wonder if this type of injury is deep enough. I ask this because I once shared a room with my cousin who mentioned she suspected a couple of guys she dated where gay. I just worried if I had left my razor around she may have used it, and there was not much time after her until I used it. However I gathered that even if the HIV (or other diseases) hadn't died in the time between users, the amount of blood carried on a razor would still not be enough for transmission anyway? I'm guessing that this holds for other things like toothbrushes. I once had a cut on my arm from a razor, and remember at some point my friend was resting on my arm and rubbing his face a bit, I had thought later if he had a nose bleed,and through 'nuzzling'  my arm had opened my cut, I'm guessing the amount of blood that would have to be transferred would have to be a lot, so much that I would notice it coming on my arm. I was also in a mosque in Egypt (where there is a lot of hepatitis) and I felt something stick into my foot - it seemed like a splinter, or very fine bit of metal, my friend said it was something from the carpet and it was quite flimsy, but it didn't penetrate my foot deeply or anything and I pulled it out quite easily. I heard from a Dr there I shouldn't worry about blood borne diseases from this, I'm guessing because it didn't penetrate deeply.
239123_tn?1267651214
Welcome back to the forum.

"I heard from a Dr there I shouldn't worry about blood borne diseases from this".  That is exactly right.

No matter what size a cut, you cannot catch HIV if the cut occurs in a public place, toilet, etc.  The ONLY injuries that have ever resulted in HIV transmission have occurred among health workers who were injured with sharp instruments contaminated with blood from patients with HIV.  The virus does not survive at all outside the body, so blood contact in other settings -- the home, restaurants, toilets, mosques, etc -- carries no risk.  The same is true for hepatitis B and C.

From both this question and our discussion last September, it seems clear you are abnormally obsessed with fear of infection through cuts and injuries.  There is no rational basis for it.  If these feelings continue, you should seek mental health care about it.  However, this forum is not a substitute for that sort of care, so I will not have any further comments or advice.

Also, please note that MedHelp permits a maximum of 2 questions every 6 months on the professionally moderated forums; you may not post another on this question before next summer.  Before then, a question would be deleted without reply and without refund of the posting fee.

Regards--  HHH, MD
3 Comments
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thanks dr, i am receiving help with my anxiety as of last week.

i assume the reference to blood contact in the home would cover a bad razor injury.
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239123_tn?1267651214
Yes.  And of course blood in the home would only be an issue if another household member has HIV.  If that is the case, then you should meet with that person, and perhaps with his or her doctor, about common sense precautions in the event that person has a bleeding injury.  Otherwise, don't worry about it.

I'm glad to hear you are receiving professional mental health care.  But still, that's all for this thread.  Take care.
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