Saturday, February 12, 2011

HIV Transmission in the Workplace

HIV can be detected in several fluids and tissue of a person living with HIV. It is important to understand however, that finding a small amount of HIV in a body fluid or tissue does not mean that HIV is transmitted by that body fluid or tissue. Only specific fluids (blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk) from an HIV-infected person can transmit HIV. These specific fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the blood-stream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to possibly occur.

Some healthcare workers have become infected after being stuck with needles containing HIV-infected blood or, less frequently, when infected blood comes in contact with a worker's open cut or is splashed into a worker's eyes or inside their nose. There has been only one instance of patients being infected by an HIV-infected dentist.

These body fluids have been shown to contain high concentrations of HIV:

  • blood
  • semen
  • vaginal fluid
  • breast milk
  • other body fluids containing blood

The following are additional body fluids that may transmit the virus that health care workers may come into contact with:

  • fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord
  • fluid surrounding bone joints
  • fluid surrounding an unborn baby

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