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Anyone catch HIV from patients as a Nurse or Nursing student? My biggest fear!

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by FutureLPNNursing FutureLPNNursing (New Member) New Member

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calivianya works as a Registered Nurse.

35,143 Visitors; 2,418 Posts

I prefer to worry irrationally about getting CJD from some random OR equipment...

Had that happen at my hospital a couple years back. A patient contracted CJD from sterilized OR equipment, since heat does not kill prions.

Anything that touches the spine, brain, or any fluids from either is discarded now, so no worries anymore!

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featherzRN has 30 years experience as a MSN.

1 Like; 19,954 Visitors; 1,010 Posts

I worked on an HIV floor in the early 90's when none of the drugs worked and everyone was dying.. I didn't get a needlestick, but several of my coworkers did.. Guess how many HIV conversions we had? ZERO. And I was drowning in pee and poo all day long - still negative many years later. So don't stress too much. :)

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cayenne06 has 10+ years experience and works as a CNM.

13 Likes; 17,706 Visitors; 1,369 Posts

Had that happen at my hospital a couple years back. A patient contracted CJD from sterilized OR equipment, since heat does not kill prions.

Anything that touches the spine, brain, or any fluids from either is discarded now, so no worries anymore!

Seriously, nothing gives me the willies like prions.

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Jm0136 has 20 years experience and works as a RN BSN.

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Hey FeatherzRN I'm halfway done with my BSN at WGU. What do u recommend me studying for government? Totally off topic

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227 Likes; 1 Follower; 44,087 Visitors; 2,943 Posts

As others have posted, several other infectious diseases, such as hepatitis, are more likely to be contacted than HIV by health care professionals. All are hard to contact if you use universal precautions.

I had never thought about it, but a few weeks ago we had an HIV positive patient come in for a routine colonoscopy. My charge nurse made a point of calling into the procedure room to let me know..."the next patient is HIV positive" the gastroentriologists casually mentioned that when a HIV patient is taking his antiretroviral medications it is probable that his HIV level is so low as to be undetectable, thus even less of a "worry" for anyone.

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Altra works as a staff / charge RN in a teaching hospital - I work .

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I have read horror stories of nurses not even sure where they got HIV from and the best clue I would have is on the job for sure one way or the other.

So, this means that you have read detailed case studies of these nurses, including their social histories and been able to conclude that on the job exposure, of which they do not have a clear memory, is the most likely source of their infection?

Some reading for you: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/pdf/hcw.pdf

Of note -- no cases of HIV transmission to healthcare workers have been documented in the US since 1999.

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BeenThere2012 works as a Registered Nurse.

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I have had many exposures over the years...some with HIV and Hepatitis. When I started, we didn't even use gloves, and I started before Hiv. I had direct blood to eye exposure and several needle stick type exposures. Seen a lot.....Anyway, the only thing I have gotten is Hep C. Not that it isn't serious, it is very serious, but HIV is very difficult to catch in comparison. I've been on prophylactic meds a few times as a result of the exposures, but have been reassured many times that it is " difficult" to catch HIV from most exposures we have in nursing. Hepatitis is another story. The ID 50 for Hepatitis is 2 (as of the last time I looked it up). That means out of 100 people exposed, 50 will be infected by as little as 2 virons. The common cold or flu has ID 50's in the thousands, and we all know how easy it is to catch a cold. So ALL you healthcare providers out there, be careful and use all available protective measures. In summation, I have never known someone to catch HIV at work, and in general, it is not easy to catch this way. You should be more concerned with Hepatitis.

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2,739 Visitors; 153 Posts

I have had many exposures over the years...some with HIV and Hepatitis. When I started, we didn't even use gloves, and I started before Hiv. I had direct blood to eye exposure and several needle stick type exposures. Seen a lot.....Anyway, the only thing I have gotten is Hep C. Not that it isn't serious, it is very serious, but HIV is very difficult to catch in comparison. I've been on prophylactic meds a few times as a result of the exposures, but have been reassured many times that it is " difficult" to catch HIV from most exposures we have in nursing. Hepatitis is another story. The ID 50 for Hepatitis is 2 (as of the last time I looked it up). That means out of 100 people exposed, 50 will be infected by as little as 2 virons. The common cold or flu has ID 50's in the thousands, and we all know how easy it is to catch a cold. So ALL you healthcare providers out there, be careful and use all available protective measures. In summation, I have never known someone to catch HIV at work, and in general, it is not easy to catch this way. You should be more concerned with Hepatitis.

Thank you for your share of the story. Sorry to hear this. Yes I should have mentioned Hepatitis on my post as well. Anywho yes this is very scary and one of the reasons I don't want to work in this field. I just find it frustrating and sad to catch something at work for something you worked your ass off to get into. It's not all sun and roses in the medical field and there are so many other story's out there just like yours. One of who she was a mother and got hepatitis and was married with children and don't know what to do very sad:( all these posts I'm taking in to consideration of pursuing my nursing. I did finish my CMA and was exposed and know how scary that felt and I'm married and how I would not want to pass it to my husband if I did catch anything. But everything turned out just fine patient was healthy and I'm healthy thank god! Big learning experience.

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KRVRN works as a Level III NICU.

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The risk of getting HIV from a needle stick injury is 0.3%. The risk of getting HIV from mouth, nose, or eye exposure is even less- 0.1%. There truly are other things that would be more worrisome. Exposure to skin is even less. Practice safe sharps behaviors and always use universal precautions.

And I believe these low statistics are referring to a known HIV positive person. It just doesn't spread that easily. Hep C though....

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574 Likes; 3 Followers; 25,921 Visitors; 5,225 Posts

Human beings are notoriously bad at risk assessment. Your chances of being injured or killed when you drive yourself to work are far higher than the chance that you will be infected with HIV. But I am willing to bet you are not terrified every time you drive yourself somewhere.

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kicker0927 has 10 years experience.

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Its really not that scary. Settle down. I have worked as a nurse in for the prisons for years and I have treated hundreds of staff who have had used syringes puncture through their gloves into their hand while searching cells. I have walked into cells that were covered floor to ceiling in blood with 10 inmates walking around in it. I've dealt with hundreds of blood exposures (and that's in the PRISON ENVIRONMENT)...0 cases of blood borne disease arose out of any of these cases after years of follow-up. Wear your PPE and settle down. The statistical chances of contracting anything are extremely low as stated above.

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BeenThere2012 works as a Registered Nurse.

4 Likes; 1 Article; 6,704 Visitors; 758 Posts

Thank you for your share of the story. Sorry to hear this. Yes I should have mentioned Hepatitis on my post as well. Anywho yes this is very scary and one of the reasons I don't want to work in this field. I just find it frustrating and sad to catch something at work for something you worked your ass off to get into. It's not all sun and roses in the medical field and there are so many other story's out there just like yours. One of who she was a mother and got hepatitis and was married with children and don't know what to do very sad:( all these posts I'm taking in to consideration of pursuing my nursing. I did finish my CMA and was exposed and know how scary that felt and I'm married and how I would not want to pass it to my husband if I did catch anything. But everything turned out just fine patient was healthy and I'm healthy thank god! Big learning experience.

If you are truly interested in being a nurse, this would actually be the least of what you should be concerned about. There is always the possibility of "unforeseen" exposures. I know the thought of catching something dangerous to your health can be frightening, but it so rarely happens. You are as much at risk in everyday life to "catch" a disease. As another poster said, you are more at risk when driving your car. Having said that, it is up to you. You know yourself better than anyone responding here. If it would be something you couldn't cope with...meaning, if this would be something causing you to be unable to focus as a result of the distraction it would cause in your mind, then maybe you should re-think nursing as a career. Hopefully, the science and the experience of those who have given their feedback is reasuring.

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