[Question #5425] Recent Incident

22 months ago
Good Afternoon Doctors,

I have recently moved into a new serviced apartment. While i was setting up the kitchen, I accidentally cut myself with a knife that was provided by the management of the serviced apartments. I don't know how well the knife was cleaned, or who used it last. 
I am freaking out about the risk I have put myself at with regards to HIV or Hepatitis C. What are the chances of me contracting these if the somebody who had them injured himself/herself with the knife and it wasn't cleaned thoroughly. 
I am fully immunised against Hepatitis B. 
I do not know what to do now? Should I get myself tested for these two diseases?
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
22 months ago
Welcome to our forum and thanks for your confidence in our service.  Your question is a familiar one.  We receive many questions about incidental injuries due to punctures with nails, needles, knives, etc.  The fact however is that injuries of this sort do not lead to infection with HIV, hepatitis or other blood borne infections.  

The reasons for this statement are multiple and include that even if the knife you cut yourself on had previous cut someone with HIV or hepatitis c (statistically a very unlikely event), you would not be vulnerable to infection.  Infection with these infections requires infectious virus to be introduced into the blood stream.  Fortunately, these viruses quickly become non-infections on exposure to the environment, being susceptible to drying, lower than body temperatures, etc.  Do not be misled by internet-based statements that the viruses remain viable for long periods under the right conditions when outside the body.  Viable virus is not the same as infectious virus.  

I have never seen or heard of someone who became infected through cutting themselves with a previously used knife or other sharp object.  I see no medical reason for concern and no need for testing.  

I hope this reply is helpful to you.  Please do not worry. EWH