HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that lives and reproduces in the human body. Over time it destroys part of the immune system and renders it ineffective. It can be transmitted via sharing injecting/piercing equipment; having unprotected penetrative sex (anal, oral or vaginal); blood to blood contact; and mother to baby, before and during birth or through breast feeding.
Transmission of HIV requires a specific set of circumstances to occur. The following outlines those circumstances.
Prevention, infection control and standard precautions
Following infection-control procedures will help protect workers from occupational exposure to all blood-borne viruses
(and other infectious diseases) not just HIV.
The rule is: treat all blood and body fluids as potentially infectious
1. Wear personal protective equipment
(gloves and protective clothing)
+ Wear disposable gloves in situations where you may be in contact with blood or body fluids.
+ The gloves do not have to be sterile.
+ Wear personal protective equipment, such as eyewear and face shields, when there is any chance of being splashed or sprayed in the face.
2. Avoid exposure to broken skin
+ Cover your own open wounds/cuts/blisters no matter how small with waterproof dressings. This is especially important for injuries to your hands.
+ Avoid creams that may cause dermatitis or broken skin.
3. Safely handle and dispose of sharp objects such as needles, blades (e.g. razor blades) and broken glass
+ Hold a syringe by the barrel with a gloved hand.
+ Never touch the needle.
+ Do not re-cap, bend or break the needle.
+ Do not remove a needle from the barrel.
+ Never move your hands across your body when handling a sharp.
+ Dispose of the sharp in a sharps container (a yellow, rigid walled container displaying the biohazard label and symbol).
+ Dispose of a sharp in a thick plastic drink bottle if a sharps container is not available.
+ Always use long-handled tongs to pick up needles and other sharps.
+ Take the sharps container to the sharp rather than carrying the sharp around.
+ Do not put your hand in places you cannot see into e.g. cupboards, drawers, bags, under a mattress.
4. Clean up blood and body fluids as soon as possible
+ Restrict access to the affected area.
+ Wear gloves, eyewear and waterproof apron.
+ Mop up spills, including those on clothing, withpaper towels and dispose of the towels immediately.
+ Change contaminated clothing as soon as possible.
+ Wash the spills on hard surfaces with detergent solution then allow to air dry.
+ Wash furnishings (e.g. chairs and mattresses) with detergent and cold water, and leave to dry.
+ Wash uniforms (and other clothing, linen, towels etc.) in cold water. Washing in hot water will cause the bloodstain to clot and stay on the clothes. If possible, dry clothes in a clothes-dryer at the hottest temperature as this helps disinfection. Heavily contaminated clothing should be destroyed.
5. Wash your hands with soap and warm water