Research Paper on HIV Infection among Nurses
Health care workers, because of the nature of their profession, face health hazards every working day, they are highly susceptible to contract diseases from their environment at work and from their clients as well. Nurses are a part of such group at risk and one of the infections that they are wary about is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
According to the fact sheets HIV/AIDS for Nurses and Midwives by the World Health Organization, HIV is the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV infection affects the immune system. It infects, and eventually destroys, special cells in the immune system called lymphocytes and monocytes. The continuous killing of such special cells result in the persistent, progressive and profound impairment of the immune system which makes an individual susceptible to infections and conditions such as cancer.
What makes HIV infection threatening is the fact that it still has no cure, once a person is infected, the virus cannot be eliminated from the host’s body. Prevention is the best weapon against HIV infection.
In the clinical setting, transmission of HIV from patient to nurse is usually associated to needle stick injuries such accidental injection of the patient’s infected blood to the nurse. Although research suggests that infection after a needle stick injury (percutaneous exposure) is rare with a rate of about 3 per 1000 injuries, it is still a cause for concern for nurses (Hayter 14). To ensure the safety of nurses, several guidelines are imposed by hospitals and the most basic and practical of those policies are summarized as follows:
- The universal precaution in handling blood and body fluids should be observed which includes the use of protective equipment such as the donning of gloves, aprons, gowns or wearing of goggles to protect the eyes from blood splashes.
- When used needles are left lying around, accidental pricking is more likely to occur and so sharps should be disposed of properly. There are puncture resistant containers provided especially for sharps.
- Adopting accident prevention measures in performing procedures.
- Proper sterilization of equipment and having appropriate disinfectants available.
Accidents may happen to nurses in the care of their patients. Accidents that may lead to HIV infection; one of the occupational hazards nurses have to face. But when guidelines are internalized and there is constant presence of mind in handling HIV patients and their infected fluids, the risk of infection significantly decreases.
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