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HIV risks faced by medical workers

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2017 | Workers' Compensation |

Awareness campaigns have drastically increased public knowledge about the human immunodeficiency virus, and this may be part of the reason for positive statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV diagnoses have declined by nearly 20 percent in the recent decade. With exciting news like this, it can be easy to forget that the risk still exists, and people are still unfortunately infected every day. HIV is a sexually transmitted disease, of course, but there are other ways that you can be infected, too. Medical workers may face unique risks in their line of work and should be aware of the following.

Handling blood requires special precautions

Other than sex, blood transference is the most common means by which HIV is transmitted. In nearly any health care setting, blood is likely to be handled. For medical workers dealing with HIV-positive patients, this means that it should be attempted with extreme caution. If any blood were to come into contact with an open wound or a mucous membrane on your body, the infection could easily spread.

Needle injuries can transmit HIV

There is a reason needles necessitate extreme precaution in handling, too. If a needle that has been used on a patient with HIV penetrates your skin, the infected blood can enter your body and transmit the disease. Needles should therefore always be disposed of properly in sharps containers and handled according to the proper safety protocol so that medical workers are never at risk of being stuck with a used syringe.

Personal protective equipment can mitigate increased risk

In addition to generally safe practices and an awareness of protocol, the best way to prevent workplace transmission of HIV in the health care field is to invest in personal protective equipment that shields you against common culprits. A mask, gloves and goggles create effective barriers that reduce the likelihood of coming into contact with the blood of an infected patient. Do not neglect standard safety items such as these.

Be careful when treating any and all patients

Despite the fact that proactive safety can reduce the risk of HIV transmission from virtually all positive patients, it is true that many patients are infected with HIV and unaware of their status. You should therefore be exceedingly careful in treating every patient you come into contact with. You never know what their status might be, but by actively reducing your risk, you can keep your workplace safer .

HIV transmission is just one of many injuries that can occur in a health care workplace. If you have suffered this or any other, exploring your legal options may help you seek recourse.