Step on hiv needle.

Originally Posted: 
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hi guys. I looked in your archive and couldn't find anything that fits my worries. I walked outside today without shoes on and remember feeling like a stepped on something like a stone. When I got in I couldn't find anything on my feet like blood or a wound of any kind. But I'm still struggling to shake the worry that I could have stepped on a broken bit of needle or something. Is this worth worrying about? Any responses would be great!


Hi there and thank you for using the AIDS Vancouver Helpline as your source of information. While sharing needles is considered high risk for HIV transmission, this is largely because if there is a short amount of time between sharing injecting equipment, it is likely that if the blood was HIV+, it could survive longer in the instrument of the needle than if the bodily fluid was exposed to air. In the case of a broken needle or sharp object that was lying on the ground, it would be considered a no/negligible risk in terms of possible HIV transmission. In order for transmission to occur, there has to be direct contact between the HIV+ fluid and where it can have direct access to your bloodstream, and this would not be the case in the situation you described. Furthermore, the HIV virus dies within minutes after it comes into contact with air so even if you had stepped on a sharp object (that had the virus present on it) and it pierced your skin causing it to bleed, there is still no opportunity for HIV transmission as the virus would be more than likely be inactivated or "dead". In fact, the UK has recently updated guidelines on Post Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV and considered scenarios such as this such low/no risk that these medications are not recommended in situations where a person has had contact with a needle or syringe discarded in a public place (you can read more about it here if you would like: Of course, if you are sexually active and have never been tested for STI's, including HIV it may be a good idea to do so and testing is the only definitive way to know your status. A test 4 weeks post exposure is a good indicator of your status and if this situation continues to worry you, it may help alleviate some anxiety by getting tested. You may also wish to talk about this situation with a doctor or medical professional so that they can recommend any testing they may feel is necessary. I hope this answers your questions, please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns. Take care, Wendy AIDS Vancouver Helpline Volunteer e: p: (Mon-Fri 9-4pm ): (604) 696-4666 w:


Submitted by Tanya (not verified) on

I was walking downtown to my car last night and had to cross railroad tracks in a dark alley way in a pretty bad area. When doing so my shoe got syltuck in the tracks and I stepped down on something sharp. Id like to think it was a rock but given the area I can't help but think it was a drug needle. I went back to the area and looked around but am not exactly sure where I lost my shoe. I checked the bottom of my foot and I don't see blood or puncture wounds that stand out. So anyway of by chance I did step on a needle would I know? Would it have stayed stuck on my foot? Would I have bled? Can you get HIV from stepping on a HIV positive needle syringe? How deep does it have to go in? How long can it love in the syringe and needle? What about hep c?

Submitted by Tanya (not verified) on

You pretty much answered my questions. So let me get this right... If I didnt bleed I have no risk? I know sometimes needles don't leave a puncture mark or make you bleed. How deep would it have to penetrate the skin to spread HIV? Would you know if you stepped on a needle? Would it stay stuck in your foot? How long can hiv live in the actual syringe?

helpline2's picture
Submitted by helpline2 on


Hello again,


Bleeding would indicate that there was a point of entry or a puncture; if there was no puncture, there would be no risk of HIV exposure. The needle would not necessarily have been stuck in your foot, but in order for a puncture to occur, it would have to have been positioned just right. Stepping on the top portion of a syringe poses no risk of acquiring HIV.


HIV can live in a syringe longer than if it was simply exposed to air, as the lack of air exposure allows it to continue living. HIV can live for quite a while in a syringe, around a week, but Hep. C can live in a syringe for around a month. If you’re experiencing a considerable amount of anxiety over this, I recommend getting tested for your own peace of mind.


I hope this answers your questions! Feel free to send us another message if you have further concerns.



Helpline Volunteer

Helpline1's picture
Submitted by Helpline1 on

Hi there and thanks for using the AIDS Vancouver Helpline as a source for HIV/AIDS related information.

First of all, if there was no visable point of entry (puncture wound), there is no need to worry about being infected by HIV or Hepatitis A, B and/or C.

You could possibly be infected by HIV, Hepatitis B and C (very rarely Hepatitis A) if you stepped on a needle that caused a puncture wound and was bleeding.

There is a vaccination available for both Hepatitis A & B, which you may wish to consider in the future.

I trust I have addressed your concerns however, if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us again.

In health,
AIDS Vancouver Helpline Volunteer
Phone: 604.696.4666

Submitted by john (not verified) on

my friend who had been poking himself w with an acupuncture neddle, pricked me on my back. I felt a slight pain but could no see any blood on my back. Im not sure if he has HIV or not. Any risk? Please help me i am very stessed about it

helpline2's picture
Submitted by helpline2 on

Hi John, 

Since accupunture needles are solid (no bore) and very thin, the possibility of blood-blood transmission is extremely low. If you are concerned, you may wish to discuss your worries with your friend. In addition, if you find that your anxiety is interfering with your ability to go about your day to day activities, you may wish to connect with a health care provider (such as a family doctor) who can provide you with some personalized counselling or refer you to an appropriate service.

All the best, 

AIDS Vancouver Helpline Volunteer

Submitted by lee (not verified) on

I had given my aunt her insulin shot right after that I pricked my finger with the tip if the needle. It went in about to layers of skin. I drop the needle an immediately squeezed my finger and poured on it. I don't know if she had HIV or anything I did ask her but she said no but I don't see and papers so I'm a little worried. Any answers. Please help. ):

helpline2's picture
Submitted by helpline2 on

Hello Lee,
Thank you for using the AIDS Vancouver Helpline as your source of HIV related information.

Poking a needle and actually injection something are a bit different; however, if your aunt has any blood borne illness (such as HIV, Hepatitis B or C), you may have put yourself at a low risk of acquiring an illness. On a note, occupational exposure (such as needle poking) is considered a low risk of acquiring HIV. I don't know what you mean by "see and papers", but having a paper doesn't say anything.
I would suggest you to be tested as it is the only way to know one's HIV status. With an antibody test, a test done after 4 weeks will give you a great indicator of your status. In addition to that, 3 months is considered conclusive by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the international guidelines for HIV. But most importantly, most people don't live with HIV. It may also be a good idea to be get a regular check up done as well if you haven't done so.

Hopefully you find the information helpful.
If you have any other questions/concerns, please feel free to write us back.

Stay healthy and keep smiling,
AIDS Vancouver Helpline Volunteer


The AIDS Vancouver Helpline is a volunteer-driven information, referral and support service related to HIV and sexual health. Volunteers are trained in active listening, HIV and sexual health information, and local resources and services. Volunteers are not doctors, nurses, or other licensed professionals. Volunteers do not give advice, and strive to provide service-users with adequate information and appropriate referrals.

Helpline volunteers uphold the agency’s confidentiality and privacy policies. Your calls, forum posts, and emails are anonymous. We welcome you to use a pseudonym or “fake name” when using Helpline services.  We will not ask for or track your personal information. To ensure that the Helpline program is providing quality services, the Helpline Coordinator regularly monitors online content (forum posts and emails) and supervises volunteers who are receiving calls.  

The Helpline Program should not be used in replacement of medical examination, diagnosis, advice counseling or follow-up care. We strongly recommend routine testing (HIV and STI tests) and discussing your healthcare directly with a physician.

We would love to hear from you! If you have feedback or questions related to the operations of the Helpline, please contact David at or by calling 604.696.4666.

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