How can HIV transmission be prevented in health-care settings?

Friday 14/10/2011 16:00


Risk of HIV transmission in the health-care setting occurs in the following ways:
  • To Patients - Through contaminated instruments that are re-used without adequate disinfection and sterilization; transfusion of HIV-infected blood, skin grafts, organ transplants; HIV-infected donated semen; and contact with blood or other body fluids from an HIV-infected health care worker.
  • To health care workers - By piercing the skin with a needle or any other sharp instrument which has been contaminated with blood or other body fluids from an HIV infected person; exposure of broken skin, open cuts or wounds to blood or other body fluids from an HIV infected person; and splashes from infected blood or body fluids onto the mucous membranes (mouth or eyes).
The risk of HIV transmission from infected health care personnel, such as surgeons, is considered low. As a general practice, limiting the practice of HIV-infected care professional is not necessary unless there is evidence of transmitting infection through inability to meet basic infection control standards, or unless they are functionally unable to care for patients.

Health care workers in medical or dental settings where HIV may be present should practise "universal standard precautions" for protecting themselves and patients from HIV and all other blood-borne infections. Universal standard precautions require the consistent use of sterile techniques and garments, whenever and wherever blood or body fluids may be present. Creating a safe work environment by practising universal standard precautions in care of patients at all times can reduce the risk of transmission of blood-borne infections.

CDS

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