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Can I get HIV infection through used acupuncture needles?

Q: I am under going acupuncture therapy. I am not confident about the needles they use. If the needle is used on an HIV positive will it carry the virus hours after the treatment? Will the virus be active in the needle even after many hours of not in use? Will the virus be active in the clotted blood, which has dead RBC?

A:It is important that all needles and other instruments that pierce the skin be properly sterilised. Please ask your therapist and insist upon sterilisation. Generally acupuncture needles are solid - they do not have a hollow cavity like injection needles so the chances of hidden blood are much less. This does not mean that care and sterilisation can be ignored. If the blood has dried properly, the virus is generally inactivated. However, please remember that clotted blood is not dry blood as serum gets trapped in between the clot elements.


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