HIV/AIDS

08 May 2003

Infection control

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).

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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)
  • semen
  • 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:

  • faeces
  • urine
  • vomit
  • nasal secretions
  • saliva (spit)
  • sputum (lung mucus)
  • sweat
  • tears

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.

 

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HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria before working for an HIV/AIDS NPO in Soweto for many years. She was named one of the Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans in 2012.

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