Preventing transmission of HIV in healthcare workers

Although the transmission of HIV is rare in the health care industry, physicians, nurses, dentists and other medical professionals are at risk of acquiring the virus. These health care professionals may be exposed to the blood of an infected person, and therefore, receive the virus through a cut or puncture wound of their own. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.3 out of every 1,000 health care workers who receive a needle stick that has been used in an HIV patient will result in an infection if the injury goes untreated.

Regardless of this low risk, all medical professionals should know how to prevent the transmission of HIV when working with patients. Workers should assume that all bodily fluids are infected and should take the proper precautions to protect themselves from coming into contact with these fluids. Gloves and other protective equipment should always be worn when treating HIV patients. Needles and other equipment should always be disposed of in a proper sharp’s container. Furthermore, workers should thoroughly wash their hands and all other surface once they are through treating the patient.

Workers who are exposed to blood or other bodily fluids should wash with soap and water immediately, irrigate the area with fluids and applying antiseptics as directed. It is crucial that workers alert their supervisors as quickly as possible. While many healthcare workers have already received vaccinations to protect them from blood-borne pathogens, they may be required to get additional treatments to reduce the risk of infection.

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