Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Healthcare Settings
General Information about HIV
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.
Transmission of HIV
Although HIV transmission is possible in healthcare settings, it is extremely rare. Medical experts emphasize that the careful practice of infection control procedures, including universal precautions (i.e., using protective practices and personal protective equipment to prevent transmission of HIV and other bloodborne infections), protects patients as well as healthcare providers from possible HIV transmission in medical and dental settings. Healthcare personnel are at risk for occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens including HIV. Important factors that influence the overall risk for occupational exposures to bloodborne pathogens include the number of infected individuals in the patient population and the type and number of blood contacts. Transmission of HIV to patients while in healthcare settings is rare; however, proper sterilization and disinfection procedures are required.
CDC has documented rare cases of patients contracting HIV in healthcare settings from infected donor tissue.
For more information, see "Are health care workers at risk of getting HIV on the job?" and "Are patients in a health care setting at risk of getting HIV?"
For more information visit CDC's HIV web site.
Prevention and Control of HIV
- Exposure to Blood - What Healthcare Personnel Need to Know [PDF - 371 KB]
Updated: July 2003 A published booklet with important information about occupational exposures to blood, the risks of infection and important measures that should occur after an exposure.
- Sterilization or disinfection of medical devices: General principles
- Sterilization or disinfection of Patient-care equipment: HIV Related
- Laundry: Washing Infected Material
Lab Practices & Testing for HIV in Healthcare Settings
Transmission of HIV
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.
Recommendations and Guidelines
- Guidelines for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008
- 2007 Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings
- Management of Multidrug-Resistant Organisms In Healthcare Settings, 2006
- Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Healthcare Settings, 2003 MMWR, December 19, 2003 / 52(RR17);1-61
- Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Healthcare Facilities MMWR June 6, 2003 / 52(RR10);1-42
- Workbook for Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating a Sharps Injury Prevention Program
A workbook designed for Infection Control and Occupational Health Personnel, Hospital Administrators, and Sharps Injury Prevention Committees.
- Guidelines for Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings 2002
Protecting Healthcare Personnel from HIV
- Updated US Public Health Service Guidelines for the Management of Occupational Exposures to Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Recommendations for Postexposure Prophylaxis Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology Vol. 34, No. 9 (September 2013)
- Exposure to Blood What Healthcare Personnel Need to Know [PDF - 330 KB] July 2003
- Updated U.S. Public Health Service Guidelines for the Management of Occupational Exposures to HBV, HCV, and HIV and Recommendations for Postexposure Prophylaxis MMWR June 29, 2001 / 50(RR11);1-42
- Appendix A. Practice Recommendations for Health-Care Facilities Implementing the U.S. Public Health Service Guidelines for Management of Occupational Exposures to Bloodborne Pathogens MMWR June 29, 2001 / 50(RR11);43-44
- Appendix B. Management of Occupational Blood Exposures MMWR June 29, 2001 / 50(RR11);45-46
- Appendix C. Basic and Expanded HIV Postexposure Prophylaxis Regimens MMWR June 29, 2001 / 50(RR11);47-52
- Preventing Needlestick Injuries in Healthcare Settings NIOSH 1999
- Guidelines for Infection Control in Healthcare Personnel, 1998 [PDF - 1.04 MB]
- Evaluation of Safety Devices for Preventing Percutaneous Injuries Among Healthcare Workers During Phlebotomy Procedures 1993-1995. MMWR 1997
- Evaluation of Blunt Suture Needles in Preventing Percutaneous Injuries Among Healthcare Workers During Gynecologic Surgical Procedures March 1993-June 1994. MMWR 1997
- Case-control study of HIV seroconversion in Healthcare worker after percutaneous exposure to HIV-infected blood MMWR 1995
- USPHS/IDSA Guidelines for the prevention of opportunistic infections in persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus: a summary. MMWR 1995
- Guidelines for preventing the transmission of HIV through transplantation of human tissue and organs. MMWR 1994
- Use of vaccines and immune globulin in persons with altered immunocompetence (Recommendations of the ACIP). MMWR 1993 Recommendations for HIV testing services for inpatients and outpatients in acute-care hospital settings. MMWR 1993
- Recommendations for Preventing Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Hepatitis B Virus to Patients During Exposure-Prone Invasive Procedures MMWR July 12, 1991 / 40(RR08)
- Guidelines for Prevention of Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Hepatitis B Virus to Health-Care and Public-Safety Workers A Response to P.L. 100-607 The Health Omnibus Programs Extension Act of 1988 MMWR June 23, 1989 / 38(S-6);3-37
- CDC's Perspectives in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Update: Universal Precautions for Prevention of Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Hepatitis B Virus, and Other Bloodborne Pathogens in Health-Care Settings - MMWR June 24, 1988 / 37(24);377-388
- CDC Recommendations for prevention of HIV transmission in Healthcare settings MMWR August 21, 1987 / 36(SU02);001