Bloodborne HIV: Don't Get Stuck!

Protect yourself from bloodborne HIV during healthcare and cosmetic services

Even the Simplest Skin-Piercing Procedures Can Carry Risks

It’s a point that is not often acknowledged, and often misunderstood, but HIV does survive ‘outside a human body’ for a long time. Searching the issue online, you may think that HIV ‘dies in seconds’ because that’s what it says on many sites, often sites maintained by those who should know better (or perhaps do know better but haven’t got around to saying so yet?).

The question is, do you want someone else’s blood on instruments that are used to puncture your skin?

There have been a lot of instances of contaminated instruments being used on patients in connection with diabetes, testing, monitoring, injecting, etc. Equipment is misused by staff who have not been properly trained. As a result, thousands have had to be tested for HIV and hepatitis and at least 15 people have been infected in the US alone.

Such incidents are probably underreported and might not even be noticed by those who are misinformed about the risks involved. An incident in Wisconsin is particularly interesting and was reported by whistleblowers, rather than by proper infection control procedures. The healthcare worker involved thought it was OK if she changed the needle on a fingerstick pen, not realizing that “blood can backflow into the pen’s reservoir and contaminate the next person pricked by the pen”.

A similar phenomenon can occur when injections are being administered and some healthcare workers don’t realize that it is not enough just to change the needle, while reusing the syringe.

The HIV industry still denies the possible contribution of healthcare related transmissions of HIV in African countries, without having carried out adequate investigations. But it’s a little comfort to hear a CDC epidemiologist saying: “One of the most common myths is that contamination is limited to the needle. An insulin cartridge is a form of syringe. And a syringe and needle should be seen as a single device. One can contaminate the other.”

Let’s hope that what applies in the US also applies in Africa (hint hint, UNAIDS, WHO and even CDC, who have a massive influence in Africa).

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