Important Question re: HIV infectability

I have been trying to look this up via the web, but am having difficulty because of many varying opinions, facts, and anecdotes that all seem to be mixed together, and I am very upset right now and unable to think well.

Are there any statistics for the chance of HIV infection if one is deeply pricked with a needle infected from an end-stage AIDS sufferer? I know this is vague, and there must be a myriad of variables as well. I’m sorry I cannot tell you more details.

And when one knows that this happens, I understand that there is a certain procedure of drugs, or something, to try and prevent infection of the person pricked. Can someone tell me what is normally done? That is, what drugs are taken and in what order, and when are you tested, and how many negative test results must you have before you know you are “safe”? Are there any statistics on health care workers who have been badly pricked and their chance of HIV infection? :frowning:



"Needle sticks: A study of over 2,000 health care workers has been underway for several years to assess the risk of their exposure to people with AIDS. Over 1,000 of these workers had a needle stick accident with a needle that had been used on a person living with AIDS. The rest had some sort of mucous membrane exposure, such as being splashed in the face with blood or vomit.

Of all these people, only 21 show signs of being infected with HIV (as determined by the antibody test). One of these people was a nurse who had multiple needle stick accidents, including one where she tripped and fell on the depressor of a syringe full of blood, and the entire contents entered her body. Another was a lab worker who was working with a test tube of infected blood which broke and cut his finger, exposing the infected blood to his bloodstream. This study shows that AIDS is a difficult disease to get, and even the intimate exposure of these health care workers was not enough to infect them, except in the most extreme cases."

The usually quoted figure is that there is a one in three hundred chance of contracting HIV through a needlestick injury (from an HIV+ patient).

In fact, the figure may now be somewhat lower since many people with HIV are taking drugs that lower the amount of the virus in their system. With less circulating HIV virus, there is less of a chance of it being transmitted.

My dad did HIV research for the FDA before he sold out & joined the anti-God pharmaceutical industry. He stuck himself not once but twice with HIV-infected sharps during the course of his work. This was seven years ago, & he is still HIV-negative. Stories like his are not uncommon, leading one to believe that the rate of infection via this transmission route is very small.

It is worth noting, however, that any blood on the needles that my father stabbed himself with would have been mouse blood. That may affect transmission/seroconversion rates.

Please also look at

This not only gives a figure that should re-assure you some, namely

but also gives info on available treatments after a needle stick injury.

Hope this gives you some reassurance.

Every time I get tested I have to sit through the educational speech, it’s the rules. What they tell me is that 99+% of people who have been infected with HIV will test positive within 6 months. A test today will only tell you (within reasonable certainty) whether or not you have not been infected prior to 6 months ago. It takes the body as long as 6 months to begin making the antibodies that the ELISA & Western Blot tests look for.

So get tested now, and then get tested again in six months. And since there are such things as false negatives, get tested every six months thereafter even if there is no reason to suspect that HIV infection has occurred.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has quite a bit of information on this topic on their web site. Among other things, you might be interested in: “Final Report 17 October 1996 through 31 March 1999: The HIV
Postexposure Prophylaxis Registry” which can be found at:

Some quick facts
[li]The risk of a healthcare worker contracting HIV following occupational exposure (usually a sharps injury) is very low at 0.3%.[/li][li]Zidovudine post-exposure has been shown to reduce the risk by 80%.[/li][li]Post-exposure prophylaxis should be commenced as soon as possible after the injury. It is probably ineffective if started after 24 hours.[/li][li]New developments in the treatment of HIV infection have shown that combinations of anti-retroviral drugs are more active. This has led to new recommendations for post-exposure prophylaxis, using lamivudine in addition to zidovudine for high risk exposures.[/li][li]Healthcare workers should be tested for HIV infection at the time of the exposure & again at 6 weeks, 3 months & 6 months.[/li][li]Full blood count should be performed after 2 weeks on anti-retroviral therapy.[/li][/List=1]
Here another link just in case you need any more information

Americn College of Physicians

I hope every thing turns out well.

Thank you very much, everyone. I really do appreciate it, as I was in no condition to search rationally this morning (and no, it’s not for me, personally, if you are wondering) I know it should be encouraging, but I still can’t help but think that a 1 in 300 chance is still high, when the “1” instance leads to permanent illness and death. :frowning:

Everyone in the ambulance corps where I volunteer was given a photocopy of an article on this topic- I will go down to the ambulance building in a moment, and try to find the one posted there. In my state, the Dept. of Health issued guidelines on a regiment of injections to begin immediately upon possible exposure.

Okay, it does mention the Zidovudine.

I’d suggest asking your friend to call their state DOH and find out what the guidelines are, and ask what the closest ER is that will begin the regimen of treatment. Apparently if aggressively battled in time, it won’t have a chance to A) burrow in too well, and B) Mutate too much off the original strain of infection.
This Site Is all of the county Health Department offices in New York State- just scroll past the immunization regimens. This kind of info is there for every state.

I’ll bring a more detailed site in as soon as I lay my hands on the information. Best of luck to your friend No matter how low the odds, it’s a perilous thing to face. I’ve faced Staph Infection once, and Hepatitis once. Luckily, always negative.


Or, perhaps it should read this:

This Site .

While I suspect you are already aware of this, Anthracite, as you seem like a pretty well informed persson (:)), you did post this perspective:

Which is not an unreasonable thought by any mean. There is an operation that I have considered that has a 3% fatality rate, and that’s enough to keep me from pursuing that course for the time being.

But it may assuage whatever anxiety you or someone close to you may experience to realize that becoming HIV+, while no picnic, is now considered a managed health care problem as opposed to the “you’re about to die” scenario that accompanied diagnosis in the early years. I have lost a few acquaintance, and two good friends, to AIDS, but I also have another friend who is seven years past his + test and he is not sick. What might be noted here is that he does what the doctor tells him to do, as opposed to my two dead friends (denial is a BIG problem with the HIV+).

Another thouught that occurs is that, as implied in the previous posts, HIV transmission appears most likely in cases where an individual has repeated exposure.

Here’s a site with a lot of info.

Best wishes to you and yours.

There is some very new information about recommendations and risks re. Post Exposure Prophylaxis. You should be able to find that on the site or I hope that you contacted your employer immediately, had a baseline negative test, and were able to get current, appropriate treatment. If you are still concerned, please email me and, if you want, give me your phone number. I can get you in touch with an expert that is up to the minute in this area.
Also, not to increase your worries, but you should also be tested for Hepatitis B (if not immunized) and Hep C.

Thank you very much. However, it is not I who was stuck (see below), it was someone I care about a lot. And she is doing all the “standard treatment”, she claims, but we are not speaking so I cannot get information from her on how she is doing, or what her risk is, etc.

It’s a long story.

how did she get stuck with an infected needle? I know you are speaking to her now but I can’t imagine how that can happen?

[[So get tested now, and then get tested again in six months. And since there are such things as false negatives, get tested every six months thereafter even if there is no reason to suspect that HIV infection has occurred.]]

This is untrue. If you have a negative test six months after the last risky event, you can pretty much be sure of not being infected. Please go to the websites provided here for accurate info. Whenever AIDS comes up, people pass on false or outdated info. It changes all the time, so go to the experts.

Just a WAG. I don’t know what this operation you’re thinking about is or what it is for or anything about you or the severity of the condition that this would alleve all of which is none of my business . . .


Maybe you shoule read The Median is Not the Message by Stephen Jay Gould. It is basically about not taking a one number medical statistic at face value.

For instance:

Lets say there is an operation for a Cancer. This operation has a 18.5% mortality rate. 185 out of 1000 people die. However, this is not the whole story:

90% of the people who have this operation are over 50. 20% of these people die from the operation. 90% of 1000 is 900 people. of these 900, 180 die.

Of the 100 50 or under, only 5 die. A 5% mortality rate.

180+5=185. 185/1000=18.5% More research may find that many of the older people’s cancer is more advanced before it is caught, giving a 40 year old with earlier diagnosis even better odds. Breaking down the demographis can tell a VERY different story.

All I’m saying is I hope you and your doctor have discussed more than Just the solid mortality rate. As far as I know you are 94 years old and at the tail end of the demographics for your condition.