The following body fluids can be infectious when they are contaminated with HIV, and they should be handled with care by health care professionals and home-based caregivers (universal precautions should apply to these fluids):
- blood (including menstrual blood)
- vaginal secretions (including menstrual discharge)
- wound secretions
- amniotic (pregnancy) fluid
- any body fluids containing visible blood, semen, vaginal fluid
- fluids such as cerebrospinal (brain and backbone) fluid, peritoneal (abdomen) fluid, pericardial (heart) fluid, pleural (chest) fluid, and synovial (joint) fluid.
Owing to the low concentration of the virus in the following body fluids, universal precautions are not required when handling these fluids - unless visible blood is present:
- nasal secretions
- saliva (spit)
- sputum (lung mucus)
The objective for HIV infection control measures is to prevent transmission of infection from one person to another. Infection control measures will also protect the patient against opportunistic infections such as diarrhoea and respiratory infections. It is important to remember that a patient with Aids is much more vulnerable to infections than the caregiver because of the patient's depressed immune system.