[Question #1892] Risks from glass cut

43 months ago

Dear Drs, First of all thank you for the wonderful job that you do. It helps so many people and I want you to know that it is highly appreciated. I have read a lot of things on the forum but still wanted to get a clear answer from you. I understand this forum is  about sexual health but this is the best recourse available for me right now to ask this questions as I have read a lot of information on other websites  which just fuel anxiety.

The subject of my concern is the incident which happened in subway station a few days ago. While giving a card to the employee who was sitting behind a glass window I accidently cut my hand on the lower part of the glass. The cut was nothing big, it did not really bleed and there was just a small cut on my finger. Assuming that other people could hurt themselves on the same place I kind of started worrying and some information on the internet fueled my worries. I read that hiv can not survive and be passed on this way but viral hepatitis lives longer outside and can be passed through sharp objects (f.e. glass).
Does the fact that virus lives longer mean that it is still contagious and can be transmitted to others?

1.       Does it really happen or it is just a theoretical possibility?

2.       Even if theoretically that is possible, wouldn’t it only be possible in the cases where there is a noticeable amount of blood and the cut is deep? There was no noticeable blood on the glass and the cut wasn't deep.

3.       Is this occasion something to worry about in terms of blood borne infections and should one generally be concerned about cuts, scratches that happen once in every while in public places?

As you surely can understand I have tendency of obsessing about things related to blood or viruses and I really want to forget this. Thank you very much.


Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
43 months ago
Welcome to our Forum.  I'll be glad to address your questions.  I am pleased that you realize that, if someone else with HIV had cut themselves on the same piece of glass that you did, you would not be at risk for HIV.  to my knowledge the same is true for hepatitis.  While the hepatitis viruses do live slightly longer outside of the body than HIV, it is not much longer.  I would anticipate that the exposure was a no risk event for hepatitis, as well as HIV.  I have never seen or heard of a patient who acquired hepatitis (or HIV) from the sort of injury you describe and would not worry.  As for you specific questions:

1.       Does it really happen or it is just a theoretical possibility?

I would presume that this is only a theoretical concern.  


2.       Even if theoretically that is possible, wouldn’t it only be possible in the cases where there is a noticeable amount of blood and the cut is deep? There was no noticeable blood on the glass and the cut wasn't deep.

See above.  I would not be worried about this, particularly is the cut was not deep or did not draw  blood.


3.       Is this occasion something to worry about in terms of blood borne infections and should one generally be concerned about cuts, scratches that happen once in every while in public places?

In general cuts, scratches and scrapes from solid objects is not a risk factor for acquisition of blood borne infections. This is different from the situation for hollow needles which can contain infected blood and pace persons stuck with contaminated needles at risk for infection.

I hope these answers are helpful to you. Finally, I would suggest that you stay off the internet when looking for answers to questions such as these.  Much of the  information there is incorrect or taken out of context and can be misleading.  EWH

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43 months ago
Dear EWH, thank you for your answer. You are definitely right when advice to stay off the internet on these matters.
Just a question, so my mind wont manipulate about theoretical possibilities.
Even if it is somehow possible to get a virus from a glass, it would require significant amount of blood to be present on it, which would have been visible to eye. Is my logic correct on this one? Thank you very much, again. I truly want to move on and forget this.
43 months ago
And for understanding your point clearly. Your statement:  " I would anticipate that the exposure was a no risk event for hepatitis, as well as HIV" does NOT mean it is something uncertain, right?  Maybe my English is the issue, as well as the anxiety , it just seemed to me not very certain. Thank you so much. I really want to put this behind.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
43 months ago
In the theoretical, frankly unrealistic situation you describe, I would expect there to be gross contamination of the glass if there was any meaningful chance of infection.

I think your anxiety is part of the problem.  You are NOT at risk for hepatitis from the event you described.  EWH 
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43 months ago
Dear EWH,
I understand that this is my final respond here, so just one more thing: by saying "gross contamination" do you mean that there would have been obvious, visible to eye blood on glass?

Thank you very much for your answer. I also believe that anxiety is the issue here, so I will just try to forget this.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
43 months ago
Yes, gross contamination refers to the presence of obvious, visible blood.

A agree with your plans to work to put this aside.  There was no risk of HIV to you from the situation you described.  Take care.  EWH
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