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giving first aid, is there a risk of contracting HIV?
Dec 18, 1997

Many people I know won't give frst aid because they're afraid of HIV. Is there really a risk? Have there been any cases contracted this way?

Response from Ms. Breuer

When first aiders use universal precautions (that is, treating all blood as if it is infectious and always using a barrier when blood is present), first aid is very safe. To date, there are no confirmed cases of HIV infection among paramedics, police officers, firefighters or citizen first aiders. There are 9 cases under investigation at the CDC, and perhaps a few of those will emerge as confirmed cases, but we are well into the second decade of the epidemic without a confirmed case. When people refuse to give first aid out of fear of HIV, I urge them to imagine one of their own family members on the floor somewhere, needing first aid, and how much they would want someone to step in and help.

Nancy Breuer



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