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HIV and accidentally pricking yourself with a needle (needlestick injury)

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Health care workers can get HIV if they prick themselves with a needle that's been used on someone who has the virus. The chance that they'll get HIV is very small. The chance of getting infected from a needlestick is less than 1 in every 300 accidents. [34]

There's also a chance that you can become infected if blood from someone with HIV gets inside your body. For example, if you're taking a blood sample and some of the blood gets into a cut on your skin or splashes into your eye. However, the chances of this happening are very small.

Up to 2005, only five health care workers in the UK had become infected with HIV through their work. [35] There's also a chance that a further 14 people may have got HIV through a needlestick injury. But these people may have got HIV another way. Most of these people worked in countries where many people had HIV. They are not thought to have been infected through their work in the UK.

It's important to remember that casual, everyday contact with a person who has HIV doesn't put you at risk of catching the virus.

If you do prick yourself with a needle then you should get medical help immediately. There are drugs you can take to lower your chances of getting infected.

To learn more, see Emergency treatment if you think you've been exposed to HIV.


For references related to HIV infection click here.
Last Updated: August 15, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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