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Author Topic: Possible Exposure to HIV  (Read 343 times)

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Offline Loadingme

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Possible Exposure to HIV
« on: October 16, 2020, 05:13:39 pm »
Iím a firefighter paramedic who 14 days ended up having a dirty needle stick on a 27 year old patient who admitted to me she smokes crack but does not use needles. I ended up attempting an IV on the patient without any luck and when I went to retract the needle it malfunctioned and poked me right below my middle finger. Minimal bleeding at the site but was unable to watch my hands right away since I was still transporting the patient. All I could use was an alcohol prep.

I report it to my supervisor and the patient agreed to get tested. Her results came back negative for HIV, Hep A & B which helped calm down my nerves but now I started worrying again. Itís been fourteen days and my left armpit has swollen. Itís looks to be my lymph nodes and I know itís swollen because I have compared to with my right armpit and have seen my doctor which he confirmed it to be swollen. I havenít really had any other symptoms expect just worry and the swollen lymph nodes under my left armpit.

Iím concerned this is related to HIV because whenever I got sick, my lymph nodes have never swelled. I mean never. So this is very alarming to me. I was tested the day of the exposure and it came back negative.

Now itís a waiting game until 2 months to be tested again.

I guess my question would be. Since the patient tested negative, what are my chances? Could she have had an Acute infection that was undetectable at the time? Iím beyond worried. I just donít know what to do and every time I do trying to calm down I feel my swollen left armpit and canít help but think about it all over again.

Offline Ptrk3

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Re: Possible Exposure to HIV
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2020, 05:31:11 pm »
Relax, it is highly unlikely that you contracted the HIV from the incident you have described.

Incidents like the one you describe (healthcare worker stuck with needle after the needle entered vein of person of unknown status) do happen, but, fortunately, very rarely.  Most incidents of contraction of the virus through a needle is from backwash of blood from an infected person to another through shared "works" of HIV-infected intravenous drug abusers.

Yes, it is possible, but also highly unlikely, that the involved other party in your incident has not developed HIV-antibodies from a recent infection, but it certainly is very good news that she tested negative at the time.

Many HIV experts recommend that testing for HIV-antibodies be conducted six weeks after the concerning event, then at 13 weeks past for the confirmation of the six week results.

Continue to work with your healthcare provider to determine the reason for your symptoms, which could be the result of many non-HIV related causes.

Also, continue to work with your healthcare provider until your HIV-antibody test is considered to be conclusively negative, which I fully expect.



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Offline Loadingme

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Re: Possible Exposure to HIV
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2020, 06:22:58 pm »
Thank you sir for replying to my post.

   I am not trying to sound rude at all. Please do not misunderstand me because I really do appreciate you taking the time to even read my post and replying. It does mean a lot.

While yes the patient tested negative on the test at the hospital which Iím not sure which test they performed for the panel. However, depending on when the patient could very well of contracted the virus can play a role on the results, can it not? For example if she contracted the virus letís say three weeks prior to the event; this could skew the results and even worse make her viral load higher which causes a greater risk to me contracting the virus especially since she smokes crack. There is no telling how she smokes it and if she shares and she also has tattoos. Who knows how sanitized those tattoo processes were.

While I am going to keep steady on the process and hope for the best. I have a strong feeling I have this virus and I hate to say it, Iím not sure how well Iíll be able to handle the news. Itís just seems too much after 14 days I developed a swollen lymph node in my armpit and this has never happened to me. On top of that this is an early sign of Acute HIV infection.

Thank you for your time. I really do appreciate it.

Offline Jim Allen

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Re: Possible Exposure to HIV
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2020, 01:21:36 am »
Hiya,

I understand the concern and, I'm sorry to hear that you are stressing about this. 

Although understandable why you might be looking at the patient, it's not helpful.  HIV affects people from all walks of life, sweet old granny down the road could be living with HIV from a one-time sex exposure whilst the lady in question could be HIV negative.

Quote
she also has tattoos. Who knows how sanitized those tattoo processes wer


Stop, this is irrational and it's fear getting the better of you, stop trying to judge her risks. Fact is there are no documented cases of HIV transmission through tattooing.

Quote
While I am going to keep steady on the process and hope for the best. I have a strong feeling I have this virus and I hate to say it, Iím not sure how well Iíll be able to handle the news.

Yes, the patient in question could be in the window period.

However, the estimated number of HIV transmissions from occupational needlestick injuries is about 100. 58 confirmed in the USA with only one since 1999, 5 in the UK. Yet, the number of occupational needlestick injuries per year globally is over 3 million.

The risk is more for other viruses, not HIV. I suspect you will be fine, however, follow protocol and test to confirm that.

Quote
Itís just seems too much after 14 days I developed a swollen lymph node in my armpit and this has never happened to me.

I am sure it has, just you were not focused, on your body like you are now and didn't notice it. Lymph nodes swell all the time for many far more common reasons, stop touching it if you have been and let your healthcare provided take a look.

In the meantime try not to focus on HIV, live your life as normal, test when due to confirm your HIV negative status. This will not be the last time you have a needlestick injury.

Best,

Jim

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Offline Loadingme

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Re: Possible Exposure to HIV
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2020, 06:27:50 am »
Hello sir,

   Thank you for kindly responding to my post sir. It does mean a lot. Thank you. Honestly sir Iím probably going to be stressing about this for all 6 months or until these symptoms fade away. I didnít want to make it sound like I was targeting the patient or anything. That was not my intention and I apologize for that if it came off that way. I was just looking at it as she does drugs (crack). Advised she smokes it but does not use needles. Even though she doesnít use needles, she can still be sharing the pipe and this could potentially just be as bad.

Thatís what is scaring me most. Having a strong feeling that she is in the window period. The fact that she tested negative has the healthcare provider advise me not to take the post exposure HIV medications. Now Iím worried that since I didnít take those medications, this could have been one of the biggest mistakes I have ever done related to a medical decision.

Thank you for the statistics. While you are not wrong at all and I really do appreciate it. I guess I look at it like yes it seems ďrareĒ but it only takes one exposure. Plus how many needle sticks injuries truly have gone unreported and ended up contracting a virus. Sounds insane but I guarantee there are people out there who have done this.

While yes lymph nodes swell for many reasons. This one was hrs to ignore. I just woke up from a shift at work and went to take a shower and noticed I was having some pain in my arm pit area. This led me to just feel around it. I noticed swelling upon palpation. My right armpit was fine. Still to this day I can feel the swelling just by sitting down and relaxing. I went to my healthcare provider yesterday and he checked out and said there is swelling but he was unable to tell if it was lymph nodes or not. He wants me to get an ultra sound done. This really didnít have my anxiety at all about this issue. He couldnít tell me if it was lymph nodes or not.

Again thank you sir for the kind words and I am doing my very best to try not think about it. I guess my biggest worry is trying to accept that it is a possibility and how can I live my life knowing this happens to me. Thatís what Iím struggling with because growing up HIV was literally the only disease that ever terrified me, and by terrified I mean full blown panic attacks. Itís crazy, I know. I just donít know why this virus was only one that ever scared me. Now that I may have it makes me depressed. I just donít know how I could function like I use too if I end up HIV positive.

Offline Jim Allen

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Re: Possible Exposure to HIV
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2020, 06:46:10 am »
Hiya,

As mentioned the patient's risk profile is irrelevant, it's just leading you to overthink things and in a very skewed manner, like about tattoo and other non-sense. I understand it's not with intent and comes from fear.

Now to be clear for the sake of the risk assesment, we always presume the person you were in contact with is living with HIV. The test result she had did not influence my answer one bit. After 40 years if this route was more common, we would know as there would be more cases, 0 cases in the last 21 years post more accurate/common analysis capabilities says something ;), even if the odd case did slip through the net as you are suggesting.

It is extremely rare to the point of nearly non-existent for transmission to occur the way you fear, you have greater odds of being struck and killed by lightning. I am sure there are far riskier things you have done, do or experience in your life and within your line of work  ;)

I wish you well, test when due to confirm however suspect you are fine.

If you keep focusing on this and can't put the fear behind you, I would suggest you consider talking to someone to help you through this. Odds are it's not going to be the last time you have an incident like this in your line of work and being able to put things in perspective and cope with the emotional stress is important.

Best, Jim
« Last Edit: October 17, 2020, 06:52:54 am by Jim Allen »
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Read more about Testing here:
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