[Question #4286] Risk of HHH

30 months ago
Hi Doctor,

I'm a 26year old female from India, never been sexually active. I had a accident at home while giving my mom her medication today. the tablets come in a silver foil packaging and while i was removing the tablet, i cut myself with the sharp edge of the foil packaging.  The cut was just like a paper cut and when i pressed it, a speck of blood oozed out.  The tablet was bought from a very small pharmacy in my locality and im not sure how clean the packaging was. I'm freaked out at the thought that just as it cut me, what if it has cut somebody else, putting at risk for HIV/Hep. What is the risk that i can contract HIV/HepB/HepC from this incident? If so what should i do? should i get myself tested and started on any prophylaxis right away?

Your insight will help alleviate my worry. 

Thank you.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
30 months ago
Greetings and thanks for your question. I don't know whether "HHH" in your question is coincidental, or perhaps a typographical error, perhaps intending "HIV". FYI, users do not select the moderators who respond to questions; it is only by chance I am answering and not Dr. Hook. Anyway, I'm happy to answer your question!

There is no possibility of acquiring HIV, viral hepatitis, or any other blood borne infection in this situation. First, there is no realistic chance the packing wrapper had been in contact with someone's blood. Even if it had, without exposure to visible, wet blood, injuries like this do not transmit these infections. Even if the materials were packaged in very unsanitary conditions, there is zero likelihood of any pathogenic virus or bacteria remaining on the package from preparation of packaging to transport to store shelves or through the postal system. You definitely need not worry and should not be tested for anything on account of this event.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Please let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD

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30 months ago
Hi Dr. Handsfield,

Thank You so much for reply. 
I would like to clear out that by HHH i meant HIV, HepB and HepC. I did not realise that it would come across as if I was referring to you. 
Once again, Thank you for clearing out my doubts. You reply helped me a lot.


H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
30 months ago
Thanks for the clarification, and thanks for your thanks about my reply. I'm glad to have helped.---
30 months ago
Also, I would like to ask that if i pop a pimple with unwashed hands which might have come in contact with unclean surfaces and the pimple bleeds, is there any chance of acquiring HIV/HepB/HepC?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
30 months ago
No risk at all. Even in the busiest HIV/AIDS clinics, there are never any patients who did not have the well known, direct risks for HIV, i.e. sexual exposure, shared drug injection equipment, etc. When a patient initially denies such exposures, it always turns out they were mistaken:  some were lying, but many simply did not know of their traditional exposures, e.g. having a sex partner who, unknown to them, was at risk.

From the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic, we knew that nobody ever is infected by exposure to the virus in the environment. Even if exposed to others' blood in the ways you describe, these things never result in transmission of HIV or any other blood borne infection. Have only uninfected sex partners or otherwise always have safe sex, and never share drug injection equipment with anyone. If you follow these rules, you will never get HIV or hepatitis B or C. Do not worry about any other types of exposure events.

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