Get your Health question answered in 3 easy steps
A Doctor will be with you shortly
Ask a Doctor Now
178 Doctors are Online

Have a cut on my finger. What are the risk of HIV transmission through cutaneous exposure?

User rating for this question
Very Good
Answered by

Psychiatrist
Practicing since : 2003
Answered : 2190 Questions
Question
I am a nurse and practice safe personal protective gear always. I was halfway through my shift and realized I had what appeared to be a long papercut running down my finger with it being a little deeper at the end showing some blood but not actively "bleeding XXXXXXX I do not know how acquired this cut and therefore I am nervous about possible germ exposures to it such as HIV since I work in the hospital. How deep does a cut need to be to pose a threat? Thank you.
Posted Sun, 21 Apr 2013 in HIV and AIDS
 
 
Answered by Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar 25 hours later
Hello and welcome to Healthcare Magic. Thanks for your query.

I can understand that you are quite nervous about the cut in your finger which you are not sure how you acquired.

Let me clarify a few facts so that you can put your mind to ease...

Firstly, the risk of HIV transmission through cutaneous exposure is very minimal.

Secondly, even if there is a cut, there is a risk only when there is an innoculation or significant exposure to "infected" blood or body fluids. In your case, this seems extremely unlikely since you have not been innoculated with or come into contact with an "established" source of any infected fluid.

Even if you have been handling patients, mere skin-to-skin contact is insufficient to transmit blood-borne infections like HIV. You have mentioned that you always wear protective gear whenever you do any procedures in the ward. So, you don't have to worry about having been exposed to any blood or body fluids.

Thirdly, even in cases of needle-stick injuries, where a person gets pricked by a needle "contaminated with HIV", the risk is only 0.3 %, which means that 99.7 % of persons who get accidentally jabbed with a needle previously used on a HIV positive patient do not contract the infection.

So, in your case, my opinion is that the risk is negligible and so, you dont have to get worried or nervous about this incident.

Wish you all the best.

Regards,
Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar
Consultant Psychiatrist
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Have a cut on my finger. What are the risk of HIV transmission through cutaneous exposure? 1 hour later
Dr. Sundarakumar,

Thank you for your response. The only reason I am concerned is that I have a pinpoint red dot where I felt the prick on the door handle. It looks like a little petechiae XXXXXXX This is why I am concerned I was pricked and then my mind started wandering that it could have been a needle placed there.

Worse case scenerio, it was, and I was poked with a needle from an HIV source. Considering the circumstances, would I still be at risk for transmitting it? Or is the virus dead since the blood wouldn't have directly from a living host?

I know this sounds foolish, I am just trying to rationalize with myself. Thanks in advance for your help and knowledge.
 
 
Answered by Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar 20 hours later
Hello again,

The assumption that the tiny red spot in your finger would have been due to a needle prick and that needle would have been from a HIV source is extremely far fetched.

Even in such a totally hypothetical scenario, there is very less likelihood that the virus can get transmitted. This is because this virus can hardly survive outside the host and gets easily killed if left outside a living medium.

So, you really shouldn't be getting worried or nervous about the risk of contracting HIV since you have not had any significant exposure to an infected source.


Best wishes,

Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar
Consultant Psychiatrist
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Have a cut on my finger. What are the risk of HIV transmission through cutaneous exposure? 3 days later
Dr. Sundarakumar,

Thank you so much for your help. Just to put my nerves at ease I am going to get an HIV RNA (early detection) test. Ive read these are accurate 1 week after possible exposure since they look for the actual RNA vs. antibodies. Do you know anything about this test?

Thank you!
 
 
Answered by Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar 25 hours later
Hello again,

HIV-RNA tests are quite accurate in quickly detecting possible exposure to HIV. These tests are basically called Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAAT), where the genetic material in of the virus (RNA / DNA) are amplified multi-fold using a technique called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). This means that even if there is a very minimal quantity of the virus, this can be detected with high precision.

The other unique advantage of these kind of tests is that they directly detect the virus, rather that detecting the antibodies formed in response to the viral infection. Typically, when the virus enters the body, it starts multiplying very fast in the initial stages before the antibodies are formed. So, the initial viral load in the first few days of infection will be quite high and therefore, very easily picked up by these kind tests.

Also, these tests have a very high "specificity" - meaning that a negative test confidently rules out a HIV infection.

Regards,
Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar
Consultant Psychiatrist
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Have a cut on my finger. What are the risk of HIV transmission through cutaneous exposure? 8 hours later
Thank you!
 
 
Answered by Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar 14 hours later
You're welcome.

(Kindly close the query and leave a review if you are happy with my answers.)

Regards,
Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar
Consultant Psychiatrist
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+
Question is related to
Diseases and Conditions
Lab Tests
Medical Topics

The user accepted the expert's answer

Ask an HIV AIDS Specialist

© Ebix, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All the information, content and live chat provided on the site is intended to be for informational purposes only, and not a substitute for professional or medical advice. You should always speak with your doctor before you follow anything that you read on this website. Any health question asked on this site will be visible to the people who browse this site. Hence, the user assumes the responsibility not to divulge any personally identifiable information in the question. Use of this site is subject to our Terms & Conditions
Already Rated.
Your rating:

Ask a Doctor