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<< 5.2 Malaria

5.3 What about HIV/ AIDS?

Safe practice and safe behaviour are the key to avoidance.


  • Assume all patients could be HIV positive and act accordingly.
  • Assume that all blood and body fluids are potentially infective and take necessary precautions.
  • Beware of contaminating any open cuts you might have.
  • Take a personal supply of surgical gloves with you so that you can double glove for procedures.
  • Take a visor or spare pair of glasses to protect your eyes while operating.
  • Take every care to avoid needle stick injuries – especially when tired or with unfamiliar assistants.
  • Make sure you know the universal precautions to take if injury/contamination occurs.
  • Take a course of in-date anti-retrovirals with you to use as post-exposure prophylaxis if an injury occurs (see below). Keep them with you when operating so that you can start them immediately if needed.
  • Refuse blood transfusion – unless in a dire emergency and you know the donor is HIV negative.
  • Don't be paranoid but do take every precaution.

Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for occupational exposure to HIV


  • Follow normal UK protocol as far as possible.
  • Start taking PEP within 2 hours of any high risk injury, if possible, and continue for 28 days.
  • Establish the status of the source patient, if possible.
  • Seek UK advice as to whether you should return home sooner rather than later.

>> 5.4 Other personal health and safety matters

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