I get vivid nightmares often, but all through the last week on my internal medicine rotation I had the same recurring theme:

Needle-prick injuries

The dreams were always different, but they always involved some exposure to HIV, and the side-effects of the prophylaxis, and the fear of The Test six weeks later.

For the uninitiated, I should mention that the likelihood of contracting HIV from a single needle prick injury is minuscule, and even smaller when taking PEP.

But when your daily work revolves around AIDS, and you regularly see the effects of AIDS-related disease, the percentages aren’t soothing – no matter how small.

I have been extremely fortunate thus far. I don’t draw blood from a thrashing patient. I wear gloves even though they make palpating veins more difficult. I look around me and stay out of the way of people carrying sharps.

But the fear remains. I don’t need a dream analyst to tell me that these dreams are a mirror of my thoughts and fear, that much is obvious.

I just think this risk is underestimated, both by those in and out of the profession.

I don’t think the layperson realises the risk at which our lives are put.

Not a single casualty in this war is deserved.


  1. You really have a gift for writing. This post was beautiful and poignant. It must be terrifying to see the effects of all these horrendous diseases and infections each day. Thank you for being the one to risk it x

    1. You always make me feel better – thanks so much.

  2. gillandrews says:

    And I thought spiders were scary… I guess we need to be reminded of what really matters more often.

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