Summary of Study Session 26
In Study Session 26, you have learned that:
- Universal precautions should be practised by all healthcare providers to reduce the risk of exposure and transmission of blood-borne infectious agents like HIV and hepatitis virus.
- The most important infection control method is thorough hand washing with soap and water.
- Correct handling and disposal of sharps is critical for reducing occupational exposure to blood-borne infectious agents.
- The level of risk of HIV transmission after an occupational exposure varies depending on the source of the contamination, the type of injury, and the clinical stage of the infected individual.
- Referral for PEP should occur immediately if a healthcare worker is exposed to blood or body fluids from any patient, without first waiting for the patient to be HIV tested.
- PEP should begin ideally within 1–2 hours of exposure, or up to 72 hours afterwards. It is not effective if begun after 72 hours.
- After a sexual assault, the victim (and/or the parents or guardians) should be counselled about the importance of HIV testing. If an HIV test is refused initially, a three-day starter pack of PEP can begin.
- Counselling is on the risks of HIV transmission, psychosocial support, and the need to return for repeat testing after six weeks and three months; follow-up should monitor the effects of PEP.