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Date of last update: 10/12/2017.

Forum Name: AIDS

Question: Risk HIV / AIDS from a smear of blood on paper.

 chris1981 - Wed Sep 03, 2008 4:16 pm

Yesterday at work a lady handed me her layby docket to scan and it had a small smear of blood on it from a cut on her finger she was attending to. She was an elderly lady who looked in very good health. I have no cuts on my fingers and to be honest I'm not even sure I touched it. I went straight to the toilets and washed my hands with handwash in hot water. Am I at risk from this? I am going out of my mind.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:06 pm

User avatar Hi Chris -

Statistically minuscule to start with, your risk of certain specific things, had you actually touched the blood, and had it somehow come into contact with a break in your skin, would still be extremely low. Of course the risk would depend, to some degree, on what disease you'd be most worried about. I think the majority of people would probably consider HIV the worst case scenario. Again, it would have to meet all the criteria above, plus have been on there less than a few seconds before you came into contact with it. Even then the risk would be remarkably low.

I'm not going to tell you it's impossible to have caught something, but it's so close to impossible (less than improbable) that you really can relax. You did all the right things, the exposure, if it even happened, was infinitesimally small and brief, and if you had no open and exposed cuts on your hands, well, that would just about render any risk nil.

This isn't intended to suggest we shouldn't make every effort to keep our hands (and everything else) clean, or at least avoid contact with blood and other bodily fluids in uncontrolled situations, but in this case in particular you should definitely relax. There's just no reasonable way you could have contracted anything from the theoretical exposure.

You do get major points for washing your hands, however.

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