Medical Questions > Conditions and Diseases > HIV and AIDS Forum

Hiv From Environmental Surfaces?

Hey about two weeks ago I went to the emergency room for an eye problem. The eye problem went away. When I was being discharged from the room the nurse handed me a pen upside down and because of my blurry vision I thought it was retractable; before I knew it I realized that my thumb had pushed down on the tip of the pen. It was really red but no blood came out, it seemed as though some of the ink had seeped under my skin. Then the nurse said to me "oh that happens to everyone". Thats when I freaked out. I went back and she told me that it had only happen to her daughter at home with a red pen. She told me I didn't have anything to worry about because you can't get hiv from environmental surfaces. Could I have been exposed to hiv eventhough the prick didn't cause bleeding and there was no visible blood on the actual pen to my knowledge?
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replied March 1st, 2006
Experienced User
to the Extra Worried Person
I think we have to be more logical and practical while analysing the problem. Foremost, the virus stays outside the body alive for not more than 45 seconds. An infection through a pen tip cannot happen within 45 seconds after it pricked another person.

Health consultant have to be careful while using needles as the chances of getting pricked after being used on a person could be considerably high. However, the chances are lowered due to proper handling and disposable needles.

So, in your case, the chances are negative, and you need not worry to this extent. In day to day life, we even cut ourselves with knives and sharper objects while working. But we dont have to take these incidents to our brain and spoil our day.
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replied February 24th, 2010
Additional Info
To Kiklis2k,

Where did you get that 45 seconds statistic? It would help me out with my worries... I had some contact with semen accidentally in a "bookstore" (adult) and i have bad open hangnails on my thumbs where the contact with semen occured. Any thoughts?
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replied September 22nd, 2010
45 seconds is inaccurate...
It does not last for just 45 seconds outside of the body. I was just doing research on this very topic the other day and the evidence is inconclusive about how long it lasts. Since the tests are done in a lab, using high concentrations of the virus, scientists can't give an approximate. In fact, in labs they have been able to keep the virus for 15 days on a surface. So even though the actual virus is fragile and does not survive outside the body long, there is no HARD evidence of how long it survives in terms of seconds or hours, or even days (ie. in needles).
In most cases, once the body fluid or blood dries (say several hours), then the risk of infection from that fluid is near zero.

http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu/insite?page=ask- 01-10-20

http://aids.about.com/od/technicalquestion s/f/hivoutside.htm
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