First Person Account of HIV Needlestick

From the outstanding Scalpel or Sword, in two parts (thus far):

Part One (excerpt):

It’s really amazing how much progress has been made in the treatment of AIDS. It seems like the only really sick AIDS patients I see now are street people who don’t take their medications. But only 15 years ago, our ICUs were full of dying young men with ravaged immune systems; skeletal petri dishes clinging to life with glazed eyes and cottony mouths. Unfortunately, it was just such a patient whose blood touched mine early one morning.

Part Two (excerpt):

There are several factors which determine the severity of a needlestick exposure.

The first factor is the infectivity of the source. If a patient doesn’t have HIV, of course you can’t get AIDS from exposure to his blood. If the patient is dying of AIDS, you would expect the infectivity of his blood to be somewhat higher. My patient, despite our best efforts, died of AIDS-related complications at age 19 the very next day after I injected his blood into my palm. His hepatitis tests were negative.

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