[Question #6888] HCV or HIV from touching lid of garbage bin with pricked finger

10 months ago
Dear Dres.,

hope my lines find you happy and relaxed in this difficult times!

This last Monday I went for HIV, Syphilis and HCV testing, all negative. I was pricked in the finger for that and given a tissue to stop the blood flow. I had to wait for 10 minutes and received my negative results.

I finally asked where to dispose my tissue and was told to put it in a garbage bin, where everybody disposes their blood stained tissue. There was even one jammed between the bin and the lid and I fumbled quite a while to get my tissue (and the other) in, with my pricked finger.

I left the place and immediately started to worry about possible blood on the garbage bin lid/bin itself which I touched with my finger that has been pricked 10 minutes before. (Everybody disposes their blood stained tissues there and some people have real risks.)

I don`t really worry a lot  about HIV but have read that HCV is more transmissible and stays alive longer on inanimate objects and worry abaout HCV infection now (I am vaccinated against HBV).

1) Was this really a risk for HCV, even very remote?

2) Do I have to get tested again for that matter?

I thought a lot about this garbage bin lately. It seems impossible to dispose anything without touching the lid. That this is the case should in itself tell me that it cannot be a risk...

I will be very grateful for your answer and hope it will allay my fears. I am head of a big German organization and am in discussions with local politicians and medical experts when and how to loosen this lockdown. So I need my full concentration. To allay my fears was the reason why I went testing, to begin with...

Kind regards
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
10 months ago
Welcome back. Sorry for the longer than usual delay in responding. 

As in your several previous discussions, your intellectual analysis of risk is correct and the emotional ones safely ignored. There is absolutely no risk for any blood borne virus, including HCV, from the potential contact of your finger -- even the pricked one -- from being infected by touching similarly used tissues with small amounts of blood (which probably was getting pretty dry). I'm not aware of data that HCV survives in the environment than HIV. In terms of transmission risk, HCV is lower risk than HIV, not higher.

I recall your previous comments about your professional stature and responsibilities. With that in mind, I think it might be time for you to look for other forms of support rather than this forum. I haven't reviewed all the previous discussions, but my recollection is that every one concerned events that you intellectually knew carried liittle or no risk for HIV or other infections. All we have done in all those interactions is confirm what you already knew. I'm not sure how helpful this is to you. Normally we stop accepting new questions after 2-3 posts on the same theme or topic -- and I think you're up to 10 or more. Among other things, such questions have low educational value for other users, one of the forum's main goals. Thanks for your understanding.

Best wishes and stay safe--   HHH, MD