HIV Infection in Health Professionals
Health professionals are not considered at high risk for
HIV infection, because they use protection (such as gloves, masks, and goggles) when dealing with
blood or body fluids.
- The chances of becoming infected after being
stuck or cut with an instrument that is contaminated with HIV-infected blood
are about 1 out of 300.1
- The chances of becoming infected if
HIV-infected blood is splashed in the eye, nose, or mouth are about 1 out of
There probably isn't much risk of getting HIV if contaminated
blood comes into contact with intact skin. But the risk may be higher if
contaminated blood touches cut, scraped, or broken skin.
degree of risk depends on:
- How much blood the person is exposed
- The amount of HIV present in the blood. People who have
symptoms of early HIV infection and those who are very sick with
AIDS tend to have greater amounts of HIV in their
- Whether the person seeks treatment with medicines, such as
If you are exposed to HIV on the job, talk with someone who
specializes in treating HIV. He or she can help you weigh the pros and cons of
treatment to reduce your chances of getting HIV. Treatment recommendations
depend on how you were exposed and what you were exposed to. If you do have
treatment, your treatment should start as soon as possible after exposure and
no later than 72 hours after exposure.
Protect yourself from
accidental exposure by disposing of sharp objects properly and wearing
protective gloves, gowns, and eye and face protection. It is likely that work
guidelines are available that will tell you what to do if you are exposed to
HIV. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the
- Immediately following an exposure to blood:
- Wash needle sticks and cuts with soap and
- Use water to flush splashed blood from your nose, mouth, or
- Wash your eyes with a steady stream of clean water, saltwater
solution (saline), or a sterile irrigant.
- Do not squeeze a puncture wound or cut, and do not wash the
affected area with antiseptics or bleach.
- Following any blood
- Report the exposure to the department that is
responsible for managing exposures, such as occupational health or infection
control. Prompt reporting is essential. In some cases, medicine treatment may
be recommended and should be started right away, preferably within 1 to 2
- Discuss with your doctor the possible risks of
infection with the
hepatitis B or
hepatitis C virus. People who work in the health care
industry should be vaccinated against hepatitis B. The vaccine is safe and
effective in preventing hepatitis B.
For more information about testing and treatment after a
job-related exposure to HIV, contact the CDC National Prevention Information Network at 1-800-458-5231 or National Institutes of Health (NIH) AIDSinfo at 1-800-HIV-0440 (1-800-448-0440).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2005).
Updated U.S. Public Health Services guidelines for the management of
occupational exposures to HIV and recommendations for postexposure prophylaxis.
MMWR, 50(RR-09): 1–17. Available online:
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Peter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine|
|Last Revised||April 5, 2012|