[Question #6135] std clinic

16 months ago
good day team!

my question is simple and i fear illogical but perhaps myself and others can benefit from the answer. 

six months ago i had an alere determine 4th gen finger prick test which was negative.  i did not have any high risk exposures but had been many many years since i was tested so wanted to be sure.   2.5 weeks ago i realized i never had a syphilis test. 

i live the bay area so i want to the san francisco city clinic to have a syphilis blood test.  it was negative. 

now i fear via the blood draw i may have been at risk for hiv or syphilis itself!  am i crazy?  is there any risk at all in getting blood drawn at a std clinic like this one?  i hate needles so did not watch the clinician to see if they used a new needle.  

please tell me this is absolutely zero risk!  and why?

thank you. 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
16 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your confidence in our services and for your question. I'm taking the opportunity for a slightly longer than usual blog-like reply that can be used in the future for other questions on the topic -- as you suggest yourself. (Thanks for the idea!)

First, syphilis:  Nobody ever catches syphilis or blood borne infection from having blood draw. For syphilis, the bacteria is rarely in the blood, and even tranfusion of blood from a syphilis infected person rarely if ever transmits the infection.

Risk for true blood borne infections, like HIV or hepatitis B or C, used to occur in the past (more than 30 years ago), when some clinics and doctors' offices re-used needles or syringes on more than one patient, without sterilization between uses. Even then, it was very rare anywhere in the US, where single-use disposable equipment has been used routinely in almost all clinics and offices for more than 40 years; and before that, properly sterilized. The equipment used today is designed for single use and cannot be re-used; that is, using them once makes them unusable thereafter. Nobody ever catches HIV or other blood borne infections (or syphilis) because of how the skin is or is not cleared before inserting the needle; and whether or not the blood drawer is infeced, washes her hands, or fails to wear gloves.

So no risk at all. This is nothing to be worried about.

I hope these comments are helpful. Let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD
---
---
16 months ago
thank you, that is pretty clear. 

i was actually considering going to the clinic to see or hear from them that their needles are single use. i can’t imagine why this is bothering my so very much.  i wish i had chosen to look and see that a new needle was used.   do you think that would insult them?

so to be clear: going to the std clinic and having my blood drawn was and is a 0 zero risk for getting hiv?  nada, full stop, zilch, no risk at all?  
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
16 months ago
You really don't need to see the needle. The nearly universal blood draw system is called Vacutainer® -- you can google it and see photos as well as discussion of the safety system used. But if you ask the clinic, I would be surprised if they felt insulted. I'm sure they get such questions from time to time. FYI, the San Francisco STD program director is a friend and colleague of mine.

Your closing statement is exactly correct.

---