I’ve recently been watching ER on HULU…probably one of the premiere medical shows on TV after the initiation of the HIV crisis. I was a young adult when the HIV crisis reared it’s head; I didn’t worry about consequences to me and I have to admit, I don’t personally know anyone that was a casualty of the early HIV identification. I didn’t do a great deal of research about the virus during this period of time nor did I know much until recently. I was not a TV watcher over the years and ‘bingeing’ this show has alerted me to a number of issues that I missed at various periods of my life.
I now know that many homosexual men take HIV ‘vitamins’ as a precaution against HIV/AID’s. I applaud this decision. I know that the road was long and arduous for many individuals, homosexual or heterosexual during those early years. I’m sure there is so much more to learn about this disease and I’ve only made a dent in that learning process.
It hit me that I began my business as a Health Care Staffing company and HR Consulting company. I wondered if health care workers were or are required to inform their employers of their HIV status. It is purely voluntary as to whether health care professionals inform an employer. I was pleased to learn that they do not, however, they have to protect themselves with universal precautions at all times….and it is not just those that work in the traditional health care field that are obligated to follow these precautions.
The universal precaution is for the worker and the patient (customer/client).
Did you all know that Hairstylists, Estheticians, Manicurists and Barbers are considered part of the healthcare community when it comes to HIV transmission?
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV destroys blood cells called CD4+ T cells, which are crucial to helping the body fight disease. This results in a weakened immune system, making persons with HIV or AIDS at risk for many different types of infections. Transmission of HIV to patients while in healthcare settings is rare. However, proper sterilization and disinfection procedures are required to prevent infection risks. Most exposures do not result in infection.
CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network has a healthcare personnel safety component aimed at monitoring occupational exposures among healthcare personnel (HCP) in the United States. The component consists of four modules: Blood/Body Fluids Exposure with Exposure Management, Blood/Body Fluids Exposure Only, Influenza Exposure Management, and Influenza Vaccination with (or without) Exposure Management. Visit CDC’s NHSN web site for more information.
Investigation of cases of HIV infection in healthcare personnel without identified risk factors is coordinated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health department HIV surveillance staff. These investigations have been conducted since early in the AIDS epidemic, but it was not until 1991 that a standardized investigation protocol was developed and implemented by CDC. Since then, healthcare personnel with HIV who are reported without any known risk for HIV infection are to be investigated by state and local health departments using this protocol, as “Cases of Public Health Importance (COPHI)”
Because of the voluntary nature of the reporting system, there is likely under-reporting of cases, and the relatively low numbers of documented and possible cases may not reflect the true numbers of cases in the U.S. Documented cases of occupationally acquired HIV are those in which HIV sero-conversion is temporally related to an exposure to an HIV-positive source and in which the exposed worker has no reported non-occupational risk factors for acquisition of HIV. Possible cases of occupationally acquired HIV are those in which a worker is found to be HIV positive, has no known non-occupational risk factors for HIV, and has opportunities for occupational exposure to blood, body fluids, or HIV-positive laboratory material. Although data was often incomplete and sero-conversion after exposure was not documented for these personnel, occupational acquisition of their infection might have been possible.
Of those healthcare personnel for whom case investigations were completed from 1981-2010, only 57 had documented seroconversion to HIV following occupational exposures
(see table for occupations). The routes of exposure resulting in infection were: 48 percutaneous (puncture/cut injury); five, muco-cutaneous (mucous membrane and/or skin); two, both percutaneous and muco-cutaneous; and two were of unknown route. Forty-nine healthcare personnel were exposed to HIV-infected blood; three to concentrated virus in a laboratory; one to visibly bloody fluid; and four to an unspecified fluid. In addition, 143 possible cases of HIV infection have been reported among healthcare personnel.
The most recent possible new case of occupationally acquired HIV reported to CDC occurred in 2009; no new documented cases have been reported since 1999, although several cases are currently in various stages of investigation. The figure shows the number of exposures/injuries leading to documented transmission by year, from 1984-1999. There are usually delays between the exposure and the reporting of the case to CDC. The number of possible cases may decrease if individuals are reclassified when a non-occupational risk is identified or may increase if new cases are reported.
More than 90% of healthcare personnel infected with HIV have non-occupational risk factors reported for acquiring their infection. All cases of suspected occupationally acquired HIV should be reported to an individual’s state health department HIV surveillance staff and a CDC COPHI Coordinator.
If you would like additional information about the HIV virus or the history of the HIV/AID's epidemic, there is a plethora of information all over the internet; each site will give you a little more to think about. I am saddened when I think of how this virus transformed lives but I also become very pragmatic and think of all the other 'blights' in humanity's history. I wish this one had not happened during my lifetime. If you want training or seminars on universal precautions in the workplace or if you would like additional information presented to members of your workplace, please contact Rosanne Bennett at 484-718-3427 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.