[Question #1647] Swimming Teacher

45 months ago
Dear Doctors,

I am a swimming teacher.

I teach people of all abilites from beginners to advanced.

The other night I was teaching a women non-swimmer. She was floating on her back and as she began to stand up she panicked and grabbed me to get a grip.
I thought nothing of it, but after my lesson I looked at the top of my thumb and noticed I had broken skin with a deep red line which looked like a fingernail had dug in, even though I could not see any visible running blood.

The woman was of African descent.

Is there any cause of concern.

Thank you.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
45 months ago
Welcome back to the forum.

I reviewed your previous discussion with Dr. Hook. In it, you describe your inflated fears of HIV. This question seems to reflect the same issue. You never mention HIV here, but I assume that is what is on your mind. There is of course no risk. If HIV (or other sexually transmitted bacteria and viruses) could be transmitted by contacts like this, they would be far more common than they are and would not be classified as sexually transmitted in the first place. Even if your swimming student has HIV, there is absolutely no risk you were infected. You will be at risk of HIV and other STDs if and when you have unprotected sex or share drug injection equipment with potentially infected persons. No other human interactions are ever likely to put you at risk.

Do not seek testing, PEP, or any other HIV prevention measures on account of this event.

I hope this has helped ease your concerns. Best wishes and stay safe--  HHH, MD

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45 months ago
Dear Dr Handsfield,

I am listening and will follow your advice.

You are correct in addressing that I have had HIV fears in the past and got quite worried and worked up about it.

Dr Hook's advice was correct and I had nothing to worry about from that incident.

I guess going through with the worry and stress about it; it always seems on my mind especially as I work in a swimming pool environment, where accidents can take place and I work with people from a diverse background.

I have been spat on in the past, even though this has been in the pool and I guess this got me worried in the first place!

So thank you for your reply and if you don't mind can I just clarify the main point.

If the woman in question stabbed or scratched with her fingernail (or hand) and blood was drawn, I still have nothing to worry about? 

Thank you for your time and patience.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
45 months ago
Still no risk even if scratching drew blood. As I said above, "You will be at risk of HIV and other STDs if and when you have unprotected sex or share drug injection equipment with potentially infected persons. No other human interactions are ever likely to put you at risk." As a man sexually attracted to other men, if and when you get HIV someday, that's how it will happen. To be cute about it, a gay man worried about HIV from scratching is sort of like a race car driver worried about being stuck by a meteorite. If and when you begin real sexual activity with other men, do it safely. In the meantime, stop worrying about HIV.


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