As we approach the year-end festivities and parties, I am reminded of an article published more than 5 years ago on HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) scares amidst getting a needle stick injury from infected blood.
The story above went that a partygoer had been going to famous clubs and jabbing people with an HIV tainted syringe, presumably of her own blood, to take revenge on them.
The following excerpt reproduced from the AsiaOne article, explains this risk further
Quoting Professor Roy Chan, president of voluntary organization Action for Aids, said it is possible for HIV to be contracted in the way described. But for that to happen, the blood has to be injected within a few hours of it being drawn from the infected person.
“The needle must also penetrate the skin of the victim and reach some blood deposits.
“And it is possible for people who have been exposed to tainted blood to seek post-exposure treatment within the first day or two at a hospital to reduce the risk of contracting the infection,”
Prof Chan told TNP.
What are the odds?
So realistically what are the exact numbers and risk for such exposure? There haven’t been any studies of HIV infected needle transmissions studied outside the healthcare setting but the numbers in a comprehensive study are:
- Blood Transfusion – 9250/10000 or 93% risk
- Needlestick – 23/10000 or 0.23% risk
- Needle sharing – 63/10000 or 0.63% risk
So far there hasn’t been any case reported or recorded, in the world of a successful HIV transmission from a needlestick attack or a needlestick injury outside the healthcare setting
So What about Tattoos or Piercings?
Again through numerous studies, the risk of HIV transmission through tattoos and piercings depend on a number of factors. Mainly the sterilization techniques of the equipment used.
Transmission occurs if the equipment (needles/tattoo gun) were contaminated with blood from a previously tattooed individual who carried HIV. Or even the use of dyes, wiping material (sponges/clothes) contaminated with blood. These are liquid solutions where at room temperature HIV virus may remain for up to 2 weeks
This percentage again is closely associated with the needlestick injury risk of 0.23%. However, repeated use of the needle/tattoo gun for the process does increase the overall risk percentage
What is the take-home message?
Around the world, HIV is a disease that has a stigma in society. And surrounding this stigma is a lot of unknowns and ultimately fear.
Only recently again in 2018 the media picks up on such another case in India where HIV transmission occurred during a blood transfusion.
The good news is that in Singapore, all blood products are tested and screened by the authorities
If you suspect an episode which could lead to a possible HIV risk – tainted needle, needle attack, transfusion error, do speak to your doctors early to discuss this risk with us. If within 72 hours, there are options such as HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) which can significantly decrease the risk of HIV transmission by more than 90%
Low HIV Risk Doesn’t Mean NO Risk
From all of us at Dr Tan and Partners, stay safe and enjoy your festive season.
Other Interesting Reads:
- Padian N Transmission of HIV Possibly Associated with Exposure of Mucous Membrane to Contaminated Blood.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep11;46(27): 620-3, July, 1997
- Bernard EJ Texas jury concludes saliva of HIV-positive man a “deadly weapon”, sentenced to 35 yrs jail.com, available online at: www.aidsmap.com/page/1430404/, 16 May 2008
- Pretty IA et al. Human bites and the risk of human immunodeficiency virus transmission.Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 20(3):232-9, 1999
- Gilbart VL Unusual HIV transmissions through blood contact: analysis of cases reported in the United Kingdom to December 1997.Communicable Disease and Public Health 1: 108-13, 1998
- Baggaley RF Risk of HIV-1 transmission for parenteral exposure and blood transfusion: a systematic review and meta-analysis.AIDS 20(6): 805-812, 2006
- Nishioka SA, Gyorkos TW. Tattoos as risk factors for transfusion- transmitted diseases. International Journal of Infectious Diseases 2001;5(1):27-34.
- Messahel A, Musgrove B. Infective complications of tattooing and skin piercing. Journal of Infection and Public Health 2009;2(1):7-13.
- Garland SM, Ung L, Vujovic OV, Said JM. Cosmetic tattooing: A potential transmission route for HIV? Australian & New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecolo- gy 2006;46(5):458-9.