Prevention of HIV

June 15th, 2010 Posted in HIV

Universal Precautions

Universal precautions refer to personal protective measures that are followed in order to prevent contact with blood and body fluids of another person who may or may not have a communicable disease or infection.

The principles of universal precautions are:

  • Use of protective barriers
  • Prevention of accidents
  • Proper use of disinfections and sterilization techniques

Blood and body fluids may contain HIV or other infectious agents such as for example hepatitis B and C.

Use of protective barriers

Appropriate barriers should be worn where exposure to blood and other potentially infectious fluids is anticipated. The protection selected will depend on the type of exposure:

  • Gloves
  • Gowns and aprons
  • Mask
  • Protective eyewear

Protection of accidents through safe handling and disposal of sharps

The greatest risk of blood borne pathogen transmission in health care settings is through percutaneous exposure. Efforts to prevent transmission must focus on preventing injury from contaminated sharp instruments by encouraging safe handling and disposal of sharps. Most sharp injuries associated with blood borne transmission involve deep injuries with hollow-borne needles. These injuries frequently occur when needles are recapped, cleaned, disposed of, or inappropriately discarded, e.g. used needles left on trolleys or beds.

Good practice for the safe handling and disposal of sharps:

  • Always dispose of your own sharps
  • Never pass used sharps directly from one person to another
  • During exposure-prone procedures, the risk of injury should be minimized by ensuring that the operator has the best possible visibility, e.g., by positioning the patient, adjusting good light source and controlling bleeding.
  • Never recap, bend or break disposable needles.
  • Directly after use, place sharps, needles and syringes in a rigid container until ready for disposal. Never place those in other waste containers.
  • Locate sharps disposal containers close to the point of use, e.g., in patient’s room, on the medicine trolley and in the treatment room
  • Keep sharps and sharps disposal containers out of the reach of children
  • Prevent overflow by sending sharps disposal containers for decontamination or incineration when three-quarters full.

Proper use of disinfection and sterilization techniques

As HIV and other blood borne infections can be transmitted via equipment contaminated with body fluids, these items should be cleaned and sterilized, or appropriately disinfected before each use. The method of decontamination of instruments and equipment depends on what they are used for and the associated level of risk of transmission.

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