[Question #6961] Risk? Should I get tested

10 months ago
Hello doctors, hope y'all and your loved ones are safe in this pandemic. Thank you for your service.
 I'm a healthy 30 years old female. I moved into a new rented apartment in Chicago 6 months back.. The apartment was already furnished before i moved in. Today as I was cleaning the carpet I stepped on something that poked my toe. At first i ignored it, after a couple of minutes I felt like something was stuck in my toe. I pulled it out and it had a small bleed point which stopped immediately as i pressed over it. I'm not sure what the particle was. It was brownish and tiny, looked like a thorn, but cant be sure. I dont know how it got in the house as i havent stepped out in months and nobody else has entered the apartment. What scares me is, I dont know who lived here before me. Though my apartment is in downtown Chicago in a nice locality, i don't know if what pricked me could have been a the broken tip of a needle and if the same particle would have poked some other tenant prior to me and had some infective HIV material on it (assuming  just in case the tenant who lived here before me had it). Did this event hold a chance of me getting the infection? Is there a risk? Should i get tested? Thank you for your help.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
10 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question and for your confidence in our service. Let me provide my response first and then give you the reasons that I say that this was a virtually no risk event for which no testing is needed.

I say this because:
1.  Whatever it was that you stuck your tail on what is not a hollow point needle, the vehicle which is responsible for needle stick transmission of HIV (With used hollow point needles blood can be trapped within the inside of the needle protecting it for degradation and therefore, facilitating survival of the virus and transmission).

2.  Even if the virus was present, overtime it loses its infectiousness for people. I presume that in the interval between when the sharp object arrived on your floor and when you stuck your toe would have reduced the infectiousness of anything present.

3.  Finally, it is unlikely that whatever stock you was contaminated with blood at all, much less HIV infected blood.

Testing for HIV is always a personal choice however, I see no medical or scientific reason for you to test related to the incident that you described. I hope this information is useful to you. If there are further questions please do not hesitate to use your up to two follow-ups for clarification. Take care. EWH