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first aid, general public
Jun 19, 2001

what happens if someone in public has AIDS and they cut themselves you you happen to get blood on yourself?

Response from Ms. Breuer

Several parts of this are confusing to me. If you're out in the general public (the only other choice is at home), how would you know if someone who's bleeding has AIDS? Or even HIV, for that matter? So it's best to respond to human blood the same way in all circumstances. Here's how:

1. Treat all human blood as if it's infectious. That means assume that the blood contains HIV, hepatitis B and C and anything else bloodborne that you don't want. Don't discriminate among bleeding people because the chances of being wrong are so high.

2. Always protect yourself with a barrier if you're providing first aid. Always. A barrier means latex gloves, a plastic bag or some other non-porous layer between you and the blood.

Now to getting blood on yourself. Here's the key question: did it get into your eyes/nose/mouth, or into an open cut or break in your skin? If not, there was no exposure, and you're not at risk of acquiring any of the infections I've mentioned here. If it did, then seek medical care from a specialist in infectious diseases. Now. There's a vaccine for hepatitis B, and it would be wise to get a baseline test for HIV if you truly did have an exposure.

There's another undertone in your question that I want to be sure to address, so please understand if you didn't intend it. It's the "whose fault is it?" question. Without knowing more about the incident, I can say only that we do not walk around with the right not to get someone else'e blood on us. The more you know about how bloodborne viruses are transmitted--and not transmitted--the more comfortable you will be with the occasional accident like getting someone's blood on you.



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