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Hep C OCD?

I have OCD over germs in general, but especially about HIV and even more about Hep C. I tried therapy and I stopped. Once I get a possible exposure scenario in my head, no one can talk me down. I am obsessed with blood, cuts and scratches on other people and them being "open wounds" and possibly infecting me and my family. I look at everyone's hands, and if cashiers have band-aids on I will switch registers. This weekend a cashier was actually bleeding and I didn't realize it until she was waiting on me and my husband and my kids. She had a tissue on it and I didn't see blood, but I knew something was weird because she wouldn't let go of the tissue. Part of my OCD is a compulsion to investigate after the fact. So once everyone was in the car I went back inside and saw the cashier adjusting a band-aid on her finger, no tissue in sight. I felt like puking and convinced myself she exposed us. I called the manager. I trolled the web through the night looking for reassurance we didn't get anything (still looking for that)....I start to hate myself for not speaking up and instead putting my kids in danger. It happens often where I will see a cut on someone or a band-aid and convince myself they may have infected us. I do all that - changing clothes and washing them several times a day because of contamination, washing hands so much I now have a rash, putting band-aids on little scratches when I go in public as to protect myself. I could go on. Does anyone else have this kind of problem?
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Avatar universal
Hi guys,

I too suffer from OCD in particular with contamination so things like drugs chemicals and also diseases. I've been in therapy for a few years now and have got a lot better but underneath the OCD is always waiting to rear it's ugly head. I have recently started to challenge a lot of these compulsions with FACTS it is scarry as hell but it has worked a lot. I want to share some with you. So in order to deal with my HIV/ HepC related fears I went and met a doctor and various people who actually are in relationships with a HIV or HepC person. First lets deal with HIV, HIV is actually quite hard to catch. In order to get it from a cashier or waiter etc you would have to have an open wound on your person (lets say hand ) and when I say open would I don't mean a scratch or paper cut I mean oozing blood! Then they would have to have the same. THEN you could be at risk. However as it turns out our bodies are quite well designed and thus blood goes out of our bodies not back in. So even if you did have a would unless you were both bleeding everywhere it would be very unlikely. So this relieved a lot of fears about things like pimples, scratches, paper cuts, scabbed over wounds etc. Also most people but a waterproof band aid on and are then fine. Waiters don't go around bleeding everywhere. Next was the life span of HIV, it only survives for a very short time outside of the body. So door knobs, clothing, bedding etc no problem. In saliva the doctor told me it would require three buckets of saliva to be ingested before you could even possibly catch HIV. Finally IF and I mean really if this happens there is a drug called PEP which if taken within 72 hours of a possible infection can reduce the chance of infection down to 1 in 5. This is what nurses who get needle pricks while working sometimes take. Even then they explained to me that say in people who have condom failure and are dating an HIV positive person the chance of getting it from that is still around 1 in 40,000!!! So take into account the fact that most HIV positive people are on anti retroviral drugs which lower their viral load to undetectable and thus they become almost unable to infect others. Check out the Switzerland study if you want more info: http://www.aidsmap.com/page/1429357/
OK, so that chilled me out about HIV OCD ( it's still there but I can scientifically reassure myself and that's what we need, facts to challenge irrational thoughts! )
Then I shifted all my focus on HepC.
OK good news is that it's pretty much the same as HIV transmission eg. Blood, Seamen and mucus membrane ( inside the nose, eye and private parts ) the only real difference between the two is that HepC lives outside the body for longer. That still kind of scares me but as the HepC trust informed me that isn't a problem unless there is blood all over things! You can't catch either from kissing or sharing drinks and especially not from shaking hands or hugging. Don't share razors, toothbrushes or things that could have blood on them. Good things, you can't get HepC from ingesting it so even if someone bit someone enough to draw blood they are fine. And this is not what I want to happen because treatment for HepC sounds nasty and takes at least 6 months but in 80% of cases it is cureable. It is not like Hep A or B where we can have a vaccine but it can be cured so unlike HIV which although is managable and people can live a normal life span if they start drugs soon after being diagnosed they still can't be cured but with HepC they can be. In a wierd way that kind of made me feel less stressed. I have since become a lot better with my OCD and when it kicks in I remind myself that is just my OCD and go over my list of facts. Am I bleeding, are they bleeding, how would I possibly catch it? And even though your mind wants to find a way if you have the facts it can't. In regards to your original post about washing things, only if there is blood on it then you could dilute 1 to 10 bleach and water and wash the clothes. HIV will be dead so don't worry about it. Through meeting these medical practitioners at the HepC trust and also the HIV clinics I have started to conquor my fears and I only hope that this helps you guys as well. Try to remember as well that if someone did have these diseases they already feel pretty bad about it and our problems just make them feel worse. I have now met a few HIV & HepC positive people and they are not all drug addicts and prostitutes. They are children who were born with it or in regards to HepC actually have no idea how they got it! All the best guys and stay strong.
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Avatar universal
I can relate to you! I had OCD since i was a child i am now 23, but i was OBSESSED with washing my hands because of HIV/AIDS.  I washed my hands every time i touched anything, had bottles of hand sanitizer everywhere because i was convinced AIDS was that easy to catch.  A women who was the mother of a girl i went to school with had HIV and went to the same church and when i would see her there i would sit as far away from her as i could, would remember which pew she sat in so i would avoid it, i wouldnt shake any ones hands for the sign of peace i would get dizzy and have to hold back tears because i was terrified i was going to some how catch AIDS from her (i know its mean i didnt do it to be mean i was terrified) I too would look at peoples hands and arms to make sure there were no cuts (like when i sat next to people in school) i wouldnt let people borrow my pens i kept my hands covered with my sweater...yea it was that bad. I was even afraid of my own blood! that somehow the air would infect me if i got a cut.

My friends never made fun of me (i tried to hide it as best as i could) but they eventually noticed my hand washing and over use of hand sanitizer.  As much as i didnt want people to know i was MORE afraid of AIDS so i just couldnt stop my rituals.  They never made fun of me but they would sometimes point out to me shocked that i would wash my hands 6 times in 3 minutes.  They would say to me watch, i am going to touch this table, pick up this pretzel and eat it and i WONT get AIDS. And i would be horrified. Id also see them drop something on the ground/floor and eat it horrified and when i would say something they would say i still dont have AIDS.  They did this for years and slowly i started ( i have no idea how) to touch with out washing my hands. I also was put on an antidepressant which helped A LOT too.  

OCD still affects me its still a struggle but i am way better with the whole AIDS thing, it rarely crosses my mind unless of course i see blood but even then i dont freak out i just walk away.  Its going to be hard but you have to FIGHT it.  Its you versus your mind and the crazy ideas it puts in your head and you have to fight them really hard. If you ever need to talk im here to help feel free to message me.
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Avatar universal
You are definitely not alone! Many people on this board, including me, obsess over possible contamination of diseases such as HIV and Hep C.

Here's some facts that may help you:

You could get hepatitis C through contact with an infected person’s blood.

You could get hepatitis C from:

    * being born to a mother with hepatitis C
    * having sex with an infected person
    * being tattooed or pierced with unsterilized tools that were used on an infected person
    * getting an accidental needle stick with a needle that was used on an infected person
    * using an infected person’s razor or toothbrush
    * sharing drug needles with an infected person



You cannot get hepatitis C from

    * shaking hands with an infected person
    * hugging an infected person
    * sitting next to an infected person

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