STDs Expert Forum
I need help knowing my risk
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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I need help knowing my risk

Doctor,

I have three events that I would like to ask about and have your assement on my risk. My fear is in the transmission of HBV and HCV.

1. I was working on a jobsite (Construction) and was poked with a new nail, it started to bleed. After about 15 or 20 minutes I went to the bathroom, as I was approching the rest room a guy was exiting that was holding a towel on his hand and said he cut himself. The poke mark on my finger was now about 20 min old and was not bleeding at the time i used the bathroom. My question - If the guy before me had HCV or HBV and got blood on the light switch or the sink fixtures etc and I touched it with my wound would I be at risk of infection?  After I used the bathroom and washed my hands i squeezed my finger an blood came to the surface again - Can I assume it was not an open pathway when i was in the bathroom?

2. The other night I was out with some friends bowling and I asked a girl for a cig, she said she was out, But I could have the rest of hers. I took it from her and smoked it. My lips were not bleeding but may be chapped some and I also have a cut inside my mouth from biting my cheek. Is smoking this girls cig a risk for HCV or HBV infection asuming she was infected?

3.My last thing - I may be overreacting but I need to have your true advice, I scrached myself on my mailbox about 15 or 20 minutes before going to a bar. It bled just a small bit (Just the scratch was red from blood, Did not drip blood) When I got to the bar I shook the hands of a few people and all of there thumbs touched my 15 min old scratch on the back of my hand, I didnt see any blood on my cut but hear it can be to small to see with the naked eye. But it was also dark and I really didnt think about it at the time. What is my risk for getting HCV or HBV in this way?

Should I be worried?
Am I overreacting?
Do I need testing for HCV or HBV?
Can I continue sex with my wife or should I wait?

Please share you expert advise,

Thanks
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300980_tn?1194933000
Welcome to the Forum. I'll be happy to comment as I know how many people you've helped on the HIV Community site.

Both hepatitis B and hepatitis C are blood borne infections which can be transmitted when blood carrying the infection is injected deep into tissue.  Hepatitis B is also sexually transmitted but hepatitis C is almost never transmitted sexually with the exception of rarely through receptive rectal intercourse.  Like HIV these hepatitis viruses are not effectively transmitted on inanimate objects for several reasons including both that the viruses do not survive well in the environment and because mere surface contamination is not sufficient to transmit the infection.

In terms of prevention, there is the hepatitis B vaccine which is recommended for most people,  If you have not had it, you should consider it. it is safe, highly effective and widely available. There are no vaccines for prevention of hepatitis C so the only prevention is avoidance of needle sticks, etc.  There is no evidence of any hepatitis ever being passed from person to person on an inanimate object such as a light switch contaminated with blood and there has never been transmission of either virus through kissing, much less sharing a cigarette.

As for your specific questions:

1.  No, I see no need to worry,
2.  I think you are over reacting.
3.  No testing is needed.
4.  No reason for you to worry about sexual transmission.

I hope these answers are helpful  Take care and thanks for your help on the HIV Prevention Community site.  EWH
6 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
Doctor, Thanks so much for you input on this. One last thing I have had the first Hep B shot a month ago and going for my second on Dec 20 - do you think there is any protection from the first shot a month ago or would that start after the second shot?

I am trying to learn about HEP as well as HIV, You can never know to much!

Thanks so much
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Avatar_m_tn
Sorry last thing - Would the 20 minute old cut on my hand not be a pathway for infection?

Thats all

Thanks
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300980_tn?1194933000
Antibody production begins about a week or two after the first injection of hepatitis B vaccine and most people have developed antibodies after the second one.  The 3rd vaccine injection, in addition to inducing response in a small additonal percentage of recipients also strenghtens the response to the vaccine, making it last much longer.  Thus there could be partial protection from receipt of a vaccine a month ago but you cannot be completely sure of this.

No, a 20 minute old cut would be an unlikely entrance for infection.  

Take care.  EWH
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Avatar_m_tn
Doc,

I know how you don't like threads to drag on and on, I am the same way but I just wanted to ask one last thing regarding my questions above.

Has anyone ever been infected in the way I state in my number 3 question.

3.My last thing - I may be overreacting but I need to have your true advice, I scrached myself on my mailbox about 15 or 20 minutes before going to a bar. It bled just a small bit (Just the scratch was red from blood, Did not drip blood) When I got to the bar I shook the hands of a few people and all of there thumbs touched my 15 min old scratch on the back of my hand, I didnt see any blood on my cut but hear it can be to small to see with the naked eye. But it was also dark and I really didnt think about it at the time. What is my risk for getting HCV or HBV in this way?

This will for sure be my last question for you and I really thank you for your help here.

God Bless
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300980_tn?1194933000
No, I have never heard of anyone becoming infection in the way described in question 3.  I would not worry about this.  EWH

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This Forum's Experts
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
Seattle, WA
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Edward W Hook, MDBlank
University of Alabama at Birmingham
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