[Question #4509] HIV and HepC Risk

30 months ago
Hi Doctor,

I'm a medical student, currently living in East Brunswick.
I went to the laundromat last evening, where i dropped my phone on the floor which caused its screen to crack. Later when i was getting back home, a small piece of the cracked glass got lodged into my thumb. Applying pressure, i think i was able to remove it successfully. But it did cause visible bleeding which stopped in a couple of minutes. 
I now fear that there might have been infected fluid, which might be infected with viruses like HIV and Hep C, on the floor and the crevices of the cracked screen may not be that well exposed to air. 
I understand  that you have discussed many times about non-sexual transmission of these viruses in previous posts, but i really need to know if im at any risk here and need any testing or prophylaxis because i am aware that air exposure can make things sterile from these viruses but i dont know where my situation fits.

Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
30 months ago
Welcome to our Forum.  I'll be glad to comment.  The cut you acquired from the broken glass of your phone screen poses no risk whatsoever for acquisition of HIV or hepatitis C.  Environmental exposures of this sort have never been proven to cause these infections and there are numerous reasons why this should be the cases.  Some of these reasons include:
1.  It is unlikely that the floor was contaminated with these viruses.
2.  Even if the viruses were present, because of the dilutional effect that occurs with each transfer, the amount of virus present would have been far less than it was in the infected person that the virus came from
3.  That viruses become quickly and steadily less and less infectious with exposure to the environment and the potential for drying, exposure to temperatures lower than body temperature and to cleansers used to clean the facility's floors.  

I see no medical reason for concern from the events that you describe and no reason for testing.  I hope this explanation is helpful to you.  EWH