While it’s true that you can’t get HIV from everyday contact with air, food, water, insects, animals, dishes, or toilet seats; you can get it from bodily fluids. If you are a caregiver of someone that is living with HIV, it’s highly likely that you are coming in contact with bodily fluids so it is important to take the appropriate preventative steps to protect yourself. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, Black caregivers experience higher burdens from caregiving and spend more time caregiving than other ethnicities. So these important tips on eliminating your risk of getting HIV from someone you care for are extremely important.
“There’s something we refer to as universal precautions. A person should take precautions against infectious diseases whenever they come into [contact with] anybody’s blood or body fluids,” says Jennifer A. Shuford, MD, MPH, director of applied science at the Medical Institute for Sexual Health in Austin, Tex.
1. Wear disposable gloves
Protecting your skin from infectious bodily fluids is very important, Shuford notes. Blood and other infected bodily fluids can enter the body through open wounds or sores, mucous membranes (moist areas of skin like the mouth, the vagina, and the eyes) and even through tiny cracks in the skin that you can’t even see.
If you are coming in contact with the bodily fluids or blood from an infected person, it is best to wear disposable gloves when doing so. If you are cleaning articles soiled with urine, feces, or vomit, wear rubber gloves. Although HIV isn’t spread by contact with these body products, it can prevent infection with other germs. Additionally, in the case that your loved ones’ feces or urine contains blood, gloves and other skin protection can protect you when cleaning the toilet or bedpan.
“If you know a surface has been contaminated with blood or body fluids, clean it with a 10 percent bleach solution,” says Shuford.
You should also remember to cover any cuts, sores, or breaks in your exposed skin when dealing with the bodily fluids or blood of an infected person.
“Any time they are dealing with blood or body fluids with anybody who is HIV infected, they should wear gloves,” says Dr. Shuford, and they should also take care to cover and protect any other part of their body that could be exposed to the infected body fluid.
2. Wash your hands
Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after contact with blood or bodily fluids even if you