Bloodborne HIV: Don't Get Stuck!

Protect yourself from bloodborne HIV during healthcare and cosmetic services

Patient observed sterile treatment for medical infusions


POST for infusions: To give you an infusion, the provider sticks a needle into a vein (usually in your arm), connects the needle to a tube, and connects the tube to a bottle hanging above you – so the fluid runs into you, rather than your blood running into the tube.
1. Avoid skin-piercing procedures (a) For outpatients who are conscious, infusions are almost never required. Most of what is infused – saline, glucose, and other fluids – can be given orally. Ask your provider if an oral alternative is available.(b) If an oral alternative is not available, such as for some antibiotics, injections are usually possible, and are safer than infusions.
2. Use new disposable instruments (a) Use new disposables only. Everything that is required for an infusion (needle, tubes, bottle of saline) is low cost.(b) If the provider adds medicine to the saline bottle, make sure he or she uses a new syringe and needle to do so (see Injection section).

(c) Make sure medicines come from single-dose vials or new multi-dose vials (see Injection section).

3. You sterilize the instruments This is not relevant. Avoid, or use disposables.
4. Ask providers how they sterilize instruments This is not relevant. Avoid, or use disposables.

Additional information on infusions

Infusions are far too common: Many providers give infusions to outpatients during short clinic visits, or even at home. Most infusions are unnecessary. If you are conscious and can hold things down (not vomiting everything you take orally), you are better off taking fluids and medicines orally. Most infusions deliver nothing more than saline (salt plus water) or glucose (sugar plus water) for weakness or other minor conditions. For patients with severe diarrhoea, especially from cholera, infusions deliver oral rehydration solution (salt, sugar, and water) – this, too, is better taken orally if you can hold it down.

Infusion set with bottle

Risks with infusions

If the provider uses a needle and tube to infuse an HIV-positive patient and then, with no effort to clean, reuses them to infuse you, your risk to get HIV may be estimated as 3%-10% (see Table on Estimated risks in Blood-borne risks section). A lot of this risk is in the reused tube. Rinsing will reduce but not eliminate this risk.

If the needle, tube, and saline bottle are new, and if any medicines added to the infusion are taken from single-dose vials, you have no risk to get HIV from an infusion.

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