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