Australia: Perth man stabbed with syringe unlikely to have HIV

So much of the reporting I see on HIV-related ‘crimes’ is shoddy and scare-mongering, so I was pleased to see this follow-up story from ABC News online that highlights how hard it is to be infected with HIV by being stabbed in the shoulder with a syringe.

The original story from ABC News online, entitled, ‘Stab victim fears HIV infection,’ had gaven a rather different impression. It’s a shame, though, that ABC News didn’t approach the Health Department before airing their first report.

The Health Department of [Western Australia] says there is a very slim chance a 55-year-old man stabbed with a syringe near the Midland train station has contracted HIV.

The victim was told ‘welcome to the world of HIV’ when he was stabbed in the shoulder by a man he refused to give money to.

The Department’s Director of Communicable Disease Control Paul Van Buynder says there has never been a case in WA of a person contracting the virus after being attacked by someone with a syringe.

“There was one health care worker in the last 25 years while we’ve been monitoring this that did sustain a needle stick injury with a known HIV positive patient and that patient did seroconvert despite taking medication at the time, but that’s the only case in the last 25 years in Western Australia,” he said.

Dr Van Buynder says even if the assailant had the virus there would only be a three in one thousand chance of the man contracting it.

“The risk of Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B, which are more infectious diseases, is higher than the risk of HIV, but again it relates to the possibility of the assailant themselves being infected.”