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I have had a possible exposure to HIV. How can I protect my family from contracting the infection?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 466 Questions
I have had possible HIV exposure due to the fact I am a medical student and had a low risk splash injury 2 weeks ago. My occupational health explained that there was minimal risk and I shouldn't worry about the incident. I plan to get a test at 3 months so I can get rid of my worry. However recently I have been paranoid that I am going to infect my family if I do have HIV. I was cooking the other day and I almost cut myself with the knife, however I think I must have just nipped my nail slightly. No blood was involved at all. I'm now really scared that the meal may have been contaminated with a piece of my nail. Does a piece of nail contain the HIV virus? Are my family at risk?
Posted Wed, 11 Apr 2012 in HIV and AIDS
Answered by Dr. Mitaly 44 minutes later

Thanks for posting your query

The risk of acquiring HIV infection from splash injury is less than 0.1% and you are already aware that it was a low risk injury.High risk of HIV transmission is present when there is exchange of any body fluids like blood,saliva,vaginal or semen secretions and HIV is not transmitted by shaking hands,cooking meals or sharing things.

A nail piece cannot transmit HIV virus when there was no bodily fluid involved.

You can get a PCR DNA test done which is the best test to know if HIV virus is present in the blood and is specific. Though not a traditional method to test for HIV antibodies, it can give positive result even after 10 to 14 days of exposure. You may also consider a HIV DUO test at this time where antigen and antibody are tested. This is popular in UK.

You can consider visiting the HIV unit where you had the exposure and discuss with the Physician if prophylatic treatment is required.

It is quite natural to have anger,fear,depression due to occupational exposure.Do not take unnecessary stress and if still you have any doubts consider visiting a HIV counselling centre for assistance.

Hope I have answered your query.I will be available for follow up query if any.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: I have had a possible exposure to HIV. How can I protect my family from contracting the infection? 49 minutes later
Thank you so much for your answer.

Can I just clarify that ingestion of a nail clipping through contamination in food during the preparation (from a possibly infected HIV subject) does not carry a risk of possible HIV transmission.

Answered by Dr. Mitaly 4 hours later

I have already explained to you but let me tell you once more that nail clipping cannot transmit HIV even if it was from possible HIV infected unless there was any blood or any other secretion invloved.And you have already explained that there was no blood involoved at all so do not worry.

Wishing you Good Health,
Take Care!
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: I have had a possible exposure to HIV. How can I protect my family from contracting the infection? 19 minutes later
Thank you for your patience, I know I can be quite repetitive- I'm working on that! It was the fact that the nail could have been eaten accidently that scares me the most. But finally - even if the nail clipping was accidently consumed I have nothing to worry about?

Answered by Dr. Mitaly 14 hours later

Even if the nail was accidentaly consumed there is no need to worry as there was no blood or secretion involved and so there are no chances of transmission.Kindly do not overstress yourself.

Take Care!
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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