Protection Tips for HIV Caregivers

Even with the introduction of breakthrough drugs in the effective management of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), such as Atripla, caregivers will obviously not want to be infected with it. Keep in mind that exposure to the bodily fluids of an HIV patient can increase your risk of becoming infected.  

But don’t let the fear of infection prevent you from providing the care that your patient needs! You just have to take the necessary steps in preventing the transmission of the virus from your patient to your body. Here are a few things to know.

Common Modes of Transmission

HIV is the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Emphasis must be made that not everyone with HIV will develop AIDS, thanks largely to the breakthrough drugs. While the number of people progressing from HIV and AIDS is on a steady decline, caregivers are well-advised to always be vigilant so as to stop the spread, too.

The virus can only be transmitted from one person to the next via bodily fluids including:

  • Semen
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Blood
  • Saliva

But it cannot be transmitted via tears, vomit, sweat, feces, and urine although most of these bodily fluids should still be handled with care for hygiene purposes. This is all too true when these bodily fluids contain blood, in which case there’s an increased risk of transmission.

Effective Methods of Protection

Caregivers of HIV patients are always strongly advised to adopt universal precautions. These are general precautions that every person who comes into contact with infectious disease patients should adopt, whether in a hospital or home environment. These include but aren’t limited to:

  • Always wear disposable gloves whenever you’re dealing with the bodily fluids of an HIV patient. Properly dispose the gloves after each use and wear a new one for the next exposure.
  • Be careful about covering up any part of your body that can be exposed to the possibly infected body fluid. Infected bodily fluids including blood can enter the body via sores, mucous membranes, and open wounds, even via tiny cracks in dry skin.  
  • Be sure to properly dispose the bodily fluids. Ask your patient’s doctor or nurse about it since the usual home disposal methods are unsafe.

But even as you protect yourself against possible transmission, you should make your patient feel needed, if not loved, instead of shunned. You can discuss the precautionary measures you will be taking with your patient so as to increase your mutual understanding of such need. You should also not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help from others when there are things about your roles as a caregiver that you don’t understand too well.

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