Path To Improved Health
There are many ways to prevent occupational exposure to HIV. To start, health care workers should treat all body fluids the same way. You should assume they are infected and take precautions:
- Use protective covering, such as gloves and goggles. You always should do this when dealing with blood and body fluids.
- Wash your hands and other skin areas right after contact with blood and body fluids.
- Be careful when handling and disposing of needles and sharp instruments.
- Use available safety devices to prevent needle stick injuries.
- Be aware of your employers post-exposure processes.
If an exposure does occur, follow these basic steps:
- For a skin puncture, induce bleeding at the wound site. Do this by applying gentle pressure around the wound as you wash the area with soap and water.
- For a skin or mucous splash, rinse the area well with water.
- Get the infected persons information. This includes name, address, phone number, and HIV status. If they are a patient, get their doctors contact information.
- Notify your supervisor and coworkers. If your place of work has other procedures in place, follow those .
- Seek immediate medical care. Go to your employee health unit, emergency department, or personal doctor.
Once you are with medical professionals, they will assess the exposure. If you have a skin puncture or cut, you may also need a tetanus toxoid booster. The following are some questions a doctor may ask about the exposure.
Increased Cervical Cancer Risk
Women with HIV are at higher risk for cervical cancer, a cancer that begins in the cervix. This is because human papillomavirus is the most common cause of the cancer, and women with HIV are more likely to have the cancer-causing types of HPV .
Because of this increased risk, it is recommended that women with HIV discuss the ideal Pap smear screening schedule with a healthcare provider. For example, some guidance recommends having two pap smears in the first year after diagnosis with one Pap smear done every year after if the first two screenings were normal .
Does Hiv Viral Load Affect Getting Or Transmitting Hiv
Yes. Viral load is the amount of HIV in the blood of someone who has HIV. If taken as prescribed, HIV medicine can reduce a persons HIV viral load very low level, which keeps the immune system working and prevents illness. This is called viral suppression, defined as having less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood.
HIV medicine can also make the viral load so low that a standard lab test cant detect it. This is called having an undetectable level viral load. Almost everyone who takes HIV medicine as prescribed can achieve an undetectable viral load, usually within 6 months after starting treatment.
As noted above, people with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long and healthy lives and will not transmit HIVto their HIV-negative partnersthrough sex.
HIV medicine is a powerful tool for preventing sexual transmission of HIV. But it works only if the HIV-positive partner gets and keeps an undetectable viral load. Not everyone taking HIV medicine has an undetectable viral load. To stay undetectable, people with HIV must take HIV medicine as prescribed and visit their health care provider regularly to get a viral load test. Learn more.
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No 1 Sharing A Needle: 1 In 159
About 6 percent of the HIV diagnoses in 2015 can be attributed to the use of injection drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . The reason is that needles, syringes, and other equipment can contain blood, and therefore HIV, which can then be directly transmitted into the bloodstream. Under the right environmental circumstances, the virus can survive in a used needle for up to 42 days, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, using drugs can lower peoples inhibitions, making them less likely to use a condom during sex or to take preventive HIV medications, further increasing their risk.
- Reduce the risk. Although the number of HIV diagnoses among people who inject drugs has declined by 48 percent from 2008 to 2014, according to the CDC, experts worry that the rising opioid epidemic is putting new people at risk for getting the virus. To find substance abuse help, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP or visit its website, findtreatment.samhsa.gov, for a list of treatment facilities near you.
- Reduce the risk. People who inject drugs can help lower their risk of exposure to HIV by using a sterile needle and syringe for each injection sterile needles can be obtained without a prescription at pharmacies and through syringe services programs at state or local health departments.
Reducing The Risk From Oral Sex
The risk from unprotected oral sex with someone with a detectable viral load increases if you have:
- a throat infection
- damage to the lining of the mouth or throat
- had recent dental work or your gums bleed a lot.
Avoid performing oral sex without protection on someone with a detectable viral load while you have any of the above.
Dont floss or brush teeth before oral sex . Regular check-ups for STIs will pick up infections in your throat.
Remember that other STIs can also be passed on through oral sex, including herpes, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis.
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Interpreting The Numberswhat Additional Information Needs To Be Provided
Some clients may see these numbers and think their risk of HIV transmission is low. Therefore, caution is needed when interpreting them. If these numbers are provided to clients, they should be accompanied by information that helps shed light on why the risk may be higher than it seems.
Transmission can occur after one exposure.
It is important to emphasize that a person could become infected from having unprotected sex once or a person could have unprotected sex many times and not become infected, regardless of how low or high the risk per exposure is.
A risk of 1% would mean that an average of one infection would occur if 100 HIV-negative people were exposed to HIV through a certain type of sex. It does not mean that a person needs to be exposed 100 times for HIV infection to occur.
These are estimates of average risk in the absence of biological factors that increase risk.
The numbers in the table above are rough estimates. They are averages and do not represent the risk from all exposures to HIV through a certain type of sex.
The risk of HIV transmission may be much higher than these averages if biological risk factors are present. For example, research shows that STIs and some vaginal conditions, such as bacterial vaginosis, can increase the risk of HIV transmission by up to 8 times.6,7,8 As a result, the risk of an HIV-negative woman becoming infected through unprotected receptive vaginal sex could be closer to 1% if she has a vaginal STI.
How Hiv Infects The Body
HIV infects the immune system, causing progressive damage and eventually making it unable to fight off infections.
The virus attaches itself to immune system cells called CD4 lymphocyte cells, which protect the body against various bacteria, viruses and other germs.
Once attached, it enters the CD4 cells and uses it to make thousands of copies of itself. These copies then leave the CD4 cells, killing them in the process.
This process continues until eventually the number of CD4 cells, also called your CD4 count, drops so low that your immune system stops working.
This process may take up to 10 years, during which time you’ll feel and appear well.
Page last reviewed: 22 April 2021 Next review due: 22 April 2024
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Hiv Treatment As Prevention
People with HIV can take ART to lower their chance of transmitting HIV to others.
ART reduces the quantity of HIV in the body, or viral load, and keeps it at a low level.
The term viral load refers to the number of HIV copies per milliliter of blood.
Healthcare professionals define successful viral suppression as having a viral load of less than of HIV per milliliter of blood. Achieving and maintaining viral suppression significantly reduces the risk of HIV transmission.
Other ways to prevent HIV transmission include:
- using a condom or other barrier method during sex
- reducing the number of sexual partners
- getting vaccinated against other STIs, such as HPV and hepatitis B
- avoiding using injectable drugs, if possible
- if using injectable drugs, avoiding sharing needles and syringes
- following all workplace safety protocols
People can speak with a doctor to learn more about their individual risk of contracting HIV.
Anyone concerned about HIV exposure should contact a healthcare professional or a local emergency room to get testedand receive PEP.
The Chance Of Hiv Transmission Through One
This table shows the chance of contracting HIV through one-time unprotected rectal sex with a partner who is HIV-positive. As you can see, the chance of the âbottomâ person contracting the disease from an HIV-positive âtopâ is much greater than the other way around.
|Per exposure||1 transmission per 72 exposures||1 transmission per 909 exposures|
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Putting A Number On It: The Risk From An Exposure To Hiv
This information was provided by CATIE . For more information, contact CATIE at 1-800-263-1638.
Author: James Wilton
Service providers working in HIV prevention are often asked by their patients and clients about the risk of HIV transmission from an exposure to HIV through sex. What do the latest studies tell us about this risk? And how should we interpret and communicate the results?
The Chance Of Hiv Transmission With Protection
The likelihood of HIV transmission goes down by 70% when condoms are used. This table summarizes the chance of contracting HIV through one-time contact when protection is used.
|Protected receptive vaginal||Protected insertive vaginal||Protected receptive rectal||Protected insertive rectal|
|Per exposure||1 transmission per 4,167 exposures||1 transmission per 8,334 exposures||1 transmission per 241 exposures||1 transmission per 3,030 exposures|
The numbers in this table are calculated based on the chance of transmission without protection and the 70% reduction in HIV transmission with condom use.
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Hiv Transmission: 1 In 900 Sex Acts Transmits Virus
A heterosexual person infected with HIV will transmit the virus to their partner once in every 900 times the couple has unprotected sex, according to a new study conducted in Africa.
However, the exact number of sexual acts that are needed to transmit the virus can vary tremendously depending on the amount of the virus in the infected person’s blood, said study researcher James Hughes, of the University of Washington in Seattle.
In fact, the amount of virus in the blood is the single most important factor in determining whether HIV is passed between sexual partners, the study found. For every tenfold increase in the concentration, there is about a threefold increase in the risk of transmission during a single sexual act.
People with very high blood concentrations of the virus may need to have sex only 10 times to transmit the virus, Hughes said. “The average can be a little deceptive,” Hughes said.
The new findings reinforce the idea that the best methods for reducing HIV transmission are those that decrease the concentration of the virus in the blood, as can be done with antiretroviral drugs, Hughes said. A study published last year found the drugs could reduce the transmission of HIV between partners by 96 percent.
The new study also confirmed condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV infection, reducing the risk of transmission by 78 percent. Male circumcision reduced the risk of HIV transmission by 47 percent.
The AIDS epidemic
Viral Load And Hiv Transmission
A low viral load means a person is less likely to transmit HIV. But its important to note that the viral load test only measures the amount of HIV thats in the blood. An undetectable viral load doesnt mean HIV isnt present in the body.
Its also possible to transmit HIV to partners by sharing needles. Its never safe to share needles.
HIV-positive people may also want to consider having an open and honest discussion with their partner. They can ask their healthcare providers to explain viral load and the risks of HIV transmission.
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What Is Hiv And What Is Aids
HIV/AIDS are widely known as incurable sexually transmitted diseases, but you might not know the difference between these acronyms and what they stand for.
For simplicityâs sake, HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
If a person takes a blood test and receives a diagnosis of HIV, then they are HIV positiveâif a person does not have HIV, then they are HIV negative. HIV causes havoc in a personâs body by weakening their immune system . HIV progressively destroys the cellular part of the immune systemâparticularly types of white blood cells called CD4 cellsâwhich, over time, makes the person become immunodeficient .
As the HIV infection develops in the body, the person will become more and more immunodeficient until they reach a point where they are classified as having Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome . This is often the end stage of an HIV infection, where a personâs body is so immunodeficient that they develop infections, diseases, or cancers and are no longer able to mount a immune defense and fight them off .
There is no cure for HIV . But, if a person does become infected with HIV there are treatments available which can help keep a person healthy.
Exploring Hiv Transmission Rates
World Health Organization , about 36.7 million people worldwide lived with HIV as of 2016. Still, thanks to antiretroviral therapy , people with HIV are leading longer, better quality lives. Many of these strides have been made in the United States.
To help reduce the risk of transmission, its important to understand how the virus is spread. HIV is only transmitted through bodily fluids, such as:
- breast milk
Learn which type of exposure is most likely to transmit the virus and how antiretroviral drugs are making a difference.
, direct blood transfusion is the route of exposure that poses the highest risk of transmission. While uncommon, receiving a blood transfusion from a donor with HIV may increase the risk.
The CDC also discusses HIV transmission risk in terms of how many times the virus is likely to be transmitted per 10,000 exposures. For example, for every 10,000 blood transfusions from a donor with HIV, the virus is likely to be transmitted 9,250 times.
Since 1985, however, blood banks have adopted stricter screening measures to identify blood with HIV. Now all blood donations are carefully tested for HIV. If they test positive, theyre discarded. As a result, the risk of contracting HIV from a blood transfusion is very low.
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Hiv Symptoms And Complications In Women
Human immunodeficiency virus is the virus that causes HIV infection. Spread through certain bodily fluids, HIV destroys the immune system and, if not treated, advances to AIDS. The first symptoms of HIV most commonly appear soon after infection, going away in a short amount of time. These initial HIV symptoms are flu-like in nature and are similar across all genders .
But HIV symptoms in women tend to be different after the initial infection. From changes in menstrual cycles to an increase in vaginal infections, HIV can affect the body in ways that lead to symptoms unique to women.
What Are My Chances Of Contracting Hiv
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What is HIV?
Human immunodeficiency virus attacks and weakens the immune system, making an individual more vulnerable to serious illness. Untreated HIV can lead to AIDS, which occurs when the immune system is so weak it becomes susceptible to serious infections and some cancers.
Theres an epidemic of HIV in the United States and around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and 1 in 7 of them arent aware of it. An estimated 39,782 people in the country were diagnosed with HIV in 2016 alone.
HIV transmission occurs in many different ways, including through condomless sex and by sharing needles. Risk of transmission varies depending on several factors including:
- sexual practices and the HIV status of sexual partners
- sharing needles for drug use or tattoos
- use of PrEP, PEP, condoms, or having an undetectable viral load
Its important to understand the risk level based on actual factors in preventing the transmission of HIV.
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Viral Load And Pregnancy
Women can take HIV medications safely during pregnancy, but they should talk to a healthcare provider about specific regimens.
If an HIV-positive woman is already taking antiretroviral medications, pregnancy may affect how the body processes her medication. Certain changes in treatment might be needed.