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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Research Paper on Risks of HIV Infection among Nurses

Research Paper on Risks of 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. 

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. In a study involving 83 paramedics in England, it was found that there was 20% underreporting of needle stick injuries.  Moreover, in a study conducted among nurses in South Africa, it was found that there were nurses which are not provided with the right set of equipment that will protect them against the risk of HIV infection.

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:

  1.  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. 
  2.  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. 
  3. Adopting accident prevention measures in performing procedures.
  4.  Proper sterilization of equipment and having appropriate disinfectants available.

The guidelines aforementioned decrease the risk of HIV exposure but when an exposure has already occurred, first aid should be given to the nurse immediately. When it’s a needle stick injury, bleeding by pressing around the site of injury is encouraged. If the exposure is mucocutaneous (through non-intact skin or mucous membranes), the affected area should be washed with soap and water thoroughly. For the eyes, irrigation is recommended right away. Additional measures should then be implemented after first aid is given. 
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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