[Question #2595] HIV/HBV/HCV/Bacterial infections??

44 months ago
I'm a pre-med student. I was extremely curious to test my random blood sugar, Bleeding and clotting time techniques, and stupidly tried them at home on myself, due to the extreme fascination to the subject and also I had to perform the experiment back in college. So I decided to master myself at home first. I used a lancet first, failed to prick myself on multiple attempts, as only plasma fluid oozed out with the lancet. So I decided to change the equipment  and went to the drug store and got a 22 gauze wide bore  needle ( to avoid the paid and get significant amount of blood out for the test. ) I could successfully prick myself with the needle in one shot.  So I closed the needle and threw it in the bin in my room, later realising, I needed 1 more drop of blood to finish what I started. So I did the stupidest thing ever and I removed the needle out again, and I tried to rationalise and justify thinking the needle was capped, so would have been safe to use. Now, I'm horrified with the needle being the source of infections like HIV, HBV, HCV and other infections. The only people who come in contact with the bin is me and my housemaid. ( It's basically not a bin exactly, it's a small box where i throw my dry waste.) But now I fear my maid accidentally bleeding in the box and me inoculating myself with an infection. I read the previous post on needle prick and they have been informative, but I don't know if I could just be unlucky and invite trouble for myself. I feel extremely stupid doing this and drawing a bunch of possibilities in my head.  What are the chances of me being infected? I'd be feel fortunate to have your expert opinion over this. Thank you.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
44 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.

I don't think your actions were stupid. There is no risk for HIV or any other blood borne infection from these events. Obviously you cannot be (re)infected if somehow your own blood were still infectious after drying. And even if your housekeeper is infected, there is no plausible way your needle could have been contaminated with her blood. Even if somehow that had heppened, almost certainly the blood would have dried while in the trash. If you have reason to suspect your housekeeper has HIV and is an injection drug user (i.e. may have used the same needle you did), then conceivably there was some risk. But this seems extremely unlikely.

So all is well. No risk, no need for testing, and if you are sexually active, you will not put your partner(s) at risk. Don't worry about all this.

I hope this information has been helpful. Let me know if anything isn't clear. Best wishes for your medical career.

HHH, MD

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44 months ago
Thank you for your response. It was indeed comforting to know. I'm pretty certain that the needle was used only by myself, as there was just one when I emptied the trash to crosscheck. So there is no way that she might have used the needle. The only fear in me was contamination of the open end which is fit on the syringe. The top of the needle was capped by me. I made up this is picture in my head where the blood if present in the trash would come in contact with the open end and trickle into the needle.
Also, I'm a lil less embarrassed now when you said you dont find my actions stupid. 
Many thanks. 

H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
44 months ago
You're welcome. I'm glad to have helped. Don't worry further about this.---
44 months ago
I freed myself from the worry on that incident and there was another one to get me all worked up. I was cleaning my bathroom today, and I noticed a piece of tissue with a drop of blood stuck on the wall. I took another tissue, made it damp with water and cleaned it off. But I did have an open wound on my hand. So, I'm scared I might have touched the blood and given it an access point to the infection. So on further questioning my room-mate, I was informed of the landlord visiting the bathroom prior to my arrival. The time difference between his arrival and me cleaning the wall was around 15 minutes. So I'm not very sure if the blood was completely dried (owing to the time difference being only 15 minutes). Could I get infected with the viruses? I don't know if this is just bad luck or I'm too ignorant. I don't want to get anxious over this like I did for my previous instance, so I thought it'd be the best to have this discussed with you. Thank you very much for all that you're doing.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
44 months ago
This is nothing to worry about. The household members of persons with HIV never catch it even after years of sharing toilets, kitchens, eating utensils etc, caring forgets scrapes and other minor wounds, and cleaning up their blood and body fluids (assuming of course they aren't also sex or needle-sharing partners). Same deal for health workers taking care of AIDS patients, unless they are injured by sharp instruments while providing care. Pretty much the same for other blood borne viruses, like hepatitis B and C.

These questions make me believe your concerns reflect deeper emotional/psychological issues. Most people don't have fears like you have described. Are you germophobic in other ways? Fear of human contact because of anxiety about contamination? Highly compulsive about hygiene? If so and interfering with daily life and happiness, you should consider professional counseling, which I suggest from compassion, not criticism. Such symptoms can progress to severe mental health disability. For an excellent example, see "The Aviator", the film biography of the business magnate Howard Hughes. (It's an excellent movie, by the way, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett.)

Anyway, you needn't worry at all about the minor kinds of possible blood exposure you have described.
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44 months ago
Thanks for relieving my anxiety with your reply. Yes, sir. I believe I have germophobia. I do not like using public toilets, or even somebody other than usual using my toilet. I wash my hands every time I touch something out of my routine and I don't know if this is considered OCD - I can't fall asleep if I don't wash my feet just before going to bed. I did not have these fears until last year when my Mantoux test came back to 9mm, then I got a gold quantiferon done with chest X-ray which came back negative. but in 2 months, I caught  H1N1 infection and was admitted to the hospital for the same. these initiated my health-related fears. But it got aggravated when I had to get a biopsy done for a hyper-pigmented lesion, which came back as a melanosis (benign). This was followed by a chain of events.. I had a ligament injury on my thumb which got chronic, a lipoma on my arm ( which freaked me out that it was liposarcoma ) , I feared getting hpv, I have sub mandibular lymph nodes of 1cmapprox. for a very long time ( almost since childhood ) so it freaked me out for lymphoma as my ebv titres came positive for IgG and negative monopsot and negative IgM. I've taken shots for hpv and hbv . also recently I had to get my impacted molars extracted, which was uneventful, only later to my knowledge, the deep I.M. injection had caused accumulation of fluid which kind of caused hardening on my deltoid. so these chain of events have scared me in and out. and now I fear if the slightest unusual thing happens. sorry to bore you with my story. not trying to justify my fears, bur otherwise, I'm a really happy go lucky person. Studying for USMLE has taken a toll on me I guess. I think I've Medical Student Syndrome ( just to add a bit of humour here ). I'm trying to work on my anxiety and keep my self calm. Thanks for being patient and listening to me. You've helped so many of us and it's just beyond commendable. Can't Thank You enough.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
44 months ago
I'm not a psychologist, but it seems to me this is far beyond basic germophobia, (pre)medical student hypochondria, or OCD, and I would expect these symptoms (that's what they are, symptoms of a medical disorder) to worsen over time.  I hope you will choose to share my advice about counseling, which you will not regret,no matter what the outcome. Either you will be reassured it's not serious or you will start on a path toward effective management.

Each question comes with two follow up comments and replies, so that concludes this thread. I hope the discussion has been helpful, even if veered away from your original question. Best wishes for your future medical career.
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H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
44 months ago
Follow, not "share". Siri's fault!---