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Have I been infected with HIV virus?

Q: Two weeks ago, as I was walking on the beach with my friend, a group of thieves came and snatched my purse from me. However, when this happened I didn't realise that they cut me with a knife or a razor blade on the top of my right hand. I got 2 cuts around 1 inch deep and I was bleeding quite a bit. I am now very worried if I can get infected with HIV because I don't know first what it actually was. If it was a razor blade or a knife and then I don't know how safe it is and if they had used it on someone else before. I don't even know if the weapon was new or if it had blood stains on it or dry blood stains on it. After about 2 hours I went to the hospital and got the wound cleaned and the dressing done. And I also got a tetanus shot. What is the risk of getting infected by HIV and what are the chances, in case they might have used the weapon on someone infected with HIV and the traces would have still been on the weapon. Its now 2 weeks to the incident and I am very worried of getting infected with HIV as the AIDS rate in Tanzania is very high! Should I go for a blood test, and when? Please help me out with my worries.

A:It is unfortunate that you had such an unpleasant experience on the beach. However I feel that the chances of HIV infection from this episode are very low. It is extremely unlikely that there was fresh blood on the weapon when it cut you. The normal tendency is to wipe any weapon, including a razor or a dagger, so the chances of fresh blood are not high. If you want a test done for peace of mind you can opt for two types of test. Either get a PCR test for HIV and this test can be done even now that 2 weeks have passed, or wait and get an ELISA (or rapid or simple) test done after some time. The ERS tests (ELISA) are generally done after a period of 3 months as even with infection the human body takes upto 3 months or even longer to develop enough antibodies to give a positive test. This period is also called the window period. Please remember that you must never believe a single test if it comes positive as the ELISA can give a false positive value. All positive ELISA tests must be confirmed by another test, ELISA again will do. Negative tests can however be believed and need not be repeated providing enough time has passed since the exposure. In your case, it is most likely that the cut did not give you a HIV infection.


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