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Staying Safe: How to Protect Yourself from HIV Bloodborne Pathogens

HIV Bloodborne Pathogens

There are too many bloodborne illnesses to count, which makes the proper protection from them crucial. AIDS alone has killed over 770,000 people in the US, and it’s still going strong.

While there are plenty of others to be concerned about, there are things you can do to prevent infection. Let’s talk about some HIV bloodborne pathogens, BBP training, and what you can do to protect yourself from their worst effects.

Protecting Yourself from HIV Bloodborne Pathogens

This is still one of the most serious diseases in the world, and it hasn’t stopped killing people. While our minds have been occupied with Covid-19 or the opioid epidemic, the HIV epidemic still ravages much of the country and the world.

HIV was once considered a death sentence, with your life expectancy being reduced to months or a few years. Now, it’s considered a “life sentence”. This means that even while you can live for a decent amount of time with the virus, it can uproot your life even more than a cancer diagnosis.

Many people with HIV have to take dozens of different medications and supplements just to maintain their health, and they find themselves in and out of hospitals for the rest of your life. If you’re young and healthy, an HIV diagnosis could mean 40 or 50 years of hospital visits, failed medication, side effects from medications, random illnesses, and serious health complications.

This puts HIV at the top of the list of serious bloodborne illnesses to worry about, and that alone is scary enough without even mentioning the death toll again. If you think it’s too rare to worry about, think again. There are over 1.2 million active cases of HIV just in the United States.

Know The Transmission Risks

Transmission of bloodborne pathogens is a lot different from your typical cold or flu. These diseases need to be transmitted by blood or any blood-based bodily fluid. This means that if you kiss somebody with HIV, your only risk of transmission would be if there is blood in the saliva, which is unlikely.

The main risks are blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breastmilk, as they all naturally contain blood. This means that nursing a child with HIV or hepatitis can be a risk of transmission. Same with sex or sexual activity.

Any scenario where blood is exchanged is another massive risk of transmission. Most commonly, this will involve needles. Sharing needles is never a good idea, and an accidental needle stick could easily cause an infection. For blood transmission, mosquitos are a risk for a few diseases, but not HIV or hepatitis.

Protect Yourself from Transmission

The best way to prevent infection is to treat any blood or blood-based bodily fluid as if it contained HIV or hepatitis. This is for one simple reason: it may.

These are really serious illnesses that have been spreading with no end, almost silently under the radar. Covid-19 was lethal and killed over 600,000 Americans to date, but HIV has killed even more in the last 40 years with little attention in the last couple of decades.

Practice Safe Sex

Birth control is fantastic for preventing pregnancy, but it does absolutely nothing for preventing the spread of diseases. That’s true whether it’s a pill, an IUD, or any other form.

The only way to prevent the spread of diseases during sexual intercourse is to wear a condom. It acts as a barrier between two fluids that are known to carry viruses like HIV, namely vaginal secretions and semen.

When engaging in oral sex, it is best practice to use a dental dam or a condom. Again, these are the only forms of barriers that can protect you from spreading these diseases. Semen or vaginal secretions ingested orally will have the same effect as they would through the genitals.

If you don’t have a barrier and you are looking to engage in sexual activity, especially if it’s with a new partner, the only safe option is to engage in “outercourse”. This is a play on words from “intercourse” that suggests making sexual contact that isn’t penetrative. This could mean contact between the hand to genitals, or whatever you want that isn’t genitals to other orifice. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly immediately after.

Practice safe sex all around and don’t make compromises for your health just because somebody is pressuring you to do so.

Get Training

Your best protection, as in many circumstances, is the right education. Knowing how to handle bloodborne illnesses is crucial if you work or volunteer in a scenario where blood or needles are likely to be present. There are strict procedures to follow in order to minimize risk of exposure or infection, so there is no replacement for proper training.

Yes, healthcare comes to mind first, but that is far from the only example. If you’re a carpenter, a chef, a childcare provider, these are professions with higher risks of somebody bleeding. It is then critical to know what to do in those situations to minimize the risk of infection for everybody involved.

If you work with knives, saws, needles, playgrounds, or anything that is likely to cause a cut or a scrape, think back to how many times you’ve seen accidents. Any one of those people could have a serious illness that you and those around you need to be protected from, so get the proper training.

Take Your Health Seriously

Learning how to properly handle bloodborne pathogens in a high-risk environment is an investment in your health and the health of those around you. Don’t make any compromises. Take the training, inform those around you, and stay up to date with our latest bloodborne pathogens news!

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