[Question #3875] To Dr Hunter/EH : Concern on HIV.

32 months ago
Hi Dr,

I'm from India. Yesterday I went to a barber shop to get a haircut . While doing haircut, the barber cuts his finger with the scissor and it started bleeding. A small cut though but blood came out. Even though , he is bleeding, he continued to do haircut to me. Later, on my top left ear Same scissor made a cut/scratch which I got to identified later when he washed my ear with water after finishing the haircut. 

This act seriously escalated my anxiety bcoz of the blood to blood interaction :( 

Through my incident,

1) Am I risk at catching HIV?
2) As I stated, blood came out from his hand and he still performing haircut on me. If the same scissor with blood droplets cut my ear after few seconds, wat are my chances of getting infected ?
3) In the same scenario, if his blood droplets in hand fingers touched my fresh wound , wat are my chances of getting infected?

I'm seriously scared now. Your comments will be highly helpful for me. Pls Advise.

And one final question, wat are the chances of getting HBV/HCV from this scenario?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
32 months ago
Welcome back to the forum.

This is the third question you have asked about risks for herpes, other STDs, or HIV from exposures that obviously are no risk -- which everybody knows! People simply do not get these infections without having sex with an infected person or sharing drug injection equipment. Any other kinds of exposures are so low risk they can be ignored, even if they involve small exposures to blood, saliva, or other body fluids. Transmission of these infections requires exposure to large amounts of virus that must have contact with certain kinds of cells that are mostly deep inside the body. In fact, these are the very reasons they are transmitted only by sex or by substantial exposure to blood. If they could be so easily transmitted to catch from exposure to saliva, or to a bit of blood in a barber shop, they would be a hundred times more common than they are and would not be classified as sexually transmitted or blood borne -- they would be just like colds, flu, and viral diarrhea. In any case, it is probable that nobody in the world ever caught HIV from a barber cutting himself and then infecting a client while providing barber services. You won't the the first case! The same is true of hepatitis B and C as well.

Those comments pretty well answer your specific questions, but I'll als to be sure there is no misunderstanding

1) No, there is no risk of HIV, HBV, or HCV from this event.

2) Obviously the scissor did not cut your ear or anywhere else. Even if it did, there would be little if any risk -- even if the barber has HIV, which probably he does not.

3) No, also no risk if he contaminated a wound with blood on his fingers.

So my advice is to stop worrying. Do not get tested for HIV or any other infection on account of this event. I hope these comments are helpful.