Precautions For HIV and HBV for medical assistants

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, is caused by a bloodborne virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and the ensuing infection directly affects the immune response. The HIV is responsible for T cell destruction; T cells are the white blood cells that provide immunity. HIV is carried in semen, blood, and other body fluids, and the virus can penetrate mucous membrane. Once inside the body, the depletion of helper T cells leaves the patient vulnerable to a wide range of infections and malignancies. The infections that the patient contracts are devastating. There is no curative treatment for AIDS, but there are antiviral drugs such as AZT and DDI and others that are used to halt cellular synthesis.
In any of the acute viral hepatitis diseases, the liver becomes inflamed; in healthy persons, destroyed hepatic cells will regenerate except in elderly patients. There are five types of acute viral hepatitis, including hepatitis A (HAV); hepatitis B (HBV); hepatitis C (HCV); hepatitis D (HDV); and hepatitis E (HEV). The hepatitis B virus (HBV) represents the greatest risk to health care providers. While a new type B vaccine that confers 96 percent immunity is available for high-risk groups, it is nonetheless critical to practice standard precautions to curtail the transmission of this very preventable disease.
Hepatitis B (HBV) is easier to contract than HIV in perimenopause symptoms. Symptoms of HBV include loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, headache, fever, and jaundice, a yellow discoloration of the skin. The liver function is impaired and, in severe cases, may even be lost. It is important to note that in some individuals HBV may be asymptomatic and can still damage the liver and possibly lead to cancer of the liver. Usually, once patients become infected, they remain so for life, and are capable of transmitting the virus to others.

Transmission of HIV and HBV:
HIV and HBV are transmitted essentially through the same means. Contracting either disease requires direct contact with the virus living in infected blood and body fluids. The viruses are transmitted primarily through the following means:
a) Sexual contact with an infected person (heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual). The virus enters through the vagina, rectum, penis, or mouth.
b) Sharing needles for intravenous (IV) drug use with an infected person.
c)Receiving blood or blood products from an infected person (all blood collected for transfusions is routinely checked for HIV and HBV; therefore, risk from this source is now rare).
d)Intrauterine infection of the fetus by a pregnant infected woman.

Despite the similarities between HIV and HBV, the risk of contracting HBV is greater than contracting HIV. For example, HIV infection following an accidental needlestick is approximately 1 percent, while HBV infection following an accidental needlestick can be as high as 30 percent (Lane, 1993). Medical assistants and all other health care providers must understand the importance of protect-ing themselves from the viruses that cause AIDS and hepatitis B and other pathogenic microorganisms as well. Through strict adherence to standard precautions and routine infectious disease control measures such as those found in medical asepsis the risk of contracting an infectious disease is minimized for medical staff.