What Precautions Should Family Members of an HIV Positive Person Take?
There is no doubt that HIV diagnosis can be devastating news for a patient. But did you know that it can be just as life-changing and life-threatening for the family members of the patient?
Well yes, HIV being a virus that spreads through contact with bodily fluids is a major threat to the family members of the patient with HIV positive status. This in no way means that an HIV patient is any less of a human being or should be isolated for that matter. It, however, means that the family members of the HIV positive person have to be extra careful.
As cliche as it may seem, living with HIV means taking precautionary measures at every step of the way. Since there are little to no techniques of completely eliminating HIV from the human body or treating patients with AIDS, it only better to be cautious and well aware of the precautions that need to be taken. After all, better safe than sorry!
Since one of the best places for a person with HIV to be cared for is at home, surrounded by the people who love them, precautions for those loved ones are important. Here are some HIV precautions for family members of the HIV positive patient to proactively adhere to:
Gloves should be worn during contact with blood or other body fluids that could possibly contain visible blood, such as urine, feces, or vomit.
Cuts, sores, or breaks on both the caregiver’s and patient’s exposed skin should be covered with bandages.
HIV positive persons can get very sick from common germs and infections so HIV precautions for family members also includes taking care of the already positive patients by keeping an additional eye on cleanliness, hygiene, and sanitation.
Hugging, holding hands, giving massages, and many other types of touching are safe for you and needed by the person with AIDS.
Washing your hands is the single best way to kill germs so wash your hands after you go to the bathroom and before you fix food.
Wash your hands again before and after feeding them, bathing them, helping them go to the bathroom, or giving other care.
If you have any cuts or sores, especially on your hands, you must take extra care not to infect the person with AIDS or yourself.
If you or anybody else is sick, stay away from the person with AIDS until you’re well.
A person with AIDS often can’t fight off colds, flu, or other common illnesses.
A person with HIV infection should not share razors, toothbrushes, tweezers, nail or cuticle scissors, pierced earrings or other pierced jewelry, or any other item that might have their blood on it.
Clothes and bed sheets used by someone with AIDS can be washed the same way as another laundry.
If clothes or sheets have blood, vomit, semen, vaginal fluids, urine, or feces on them, use disposable gloves and handle the clothes or sheets as little as possible. Put them in plastic bags until you can wash them. You can but you don’t need to add bleach to kill HIV; a normal wash will kill the virus.
Flush all liquid waste (urine, vomit, etc.) that has blood in it down the toilet.
Needles and other sharp instruments should be used only when medically necessary and handled according to recommendations for health-care settings. (Do not put caps back on needles by hand or remove needles from syringes. Dispose of needles in puncture-proof containers.
In addition to general HIV precautions for family members, for people who have HIV positive partners, here are some useful guidelines:
Condoms should be used during all sex acts, whether it be oral, anal or vaginal intercourse. Condoms used correctly and consistently form a very good protection against infection with HIV and most other sexually transmitted diseases.
When using condoms, check the expiration date. Condoms kept in a cool and dark place can be used for 4 years after the manufacturing date. Never use oils, creams or Vaseline for extra lubrication when using condoms. Use water or silicon-based lubricants such as KY-Jelly or another brand.
Although HIV cannot penetrate healthy skin, staying safe is important. In order for it to enter the body, there must be a break in the skin. As a safeguard against contact with blood or body fluids, a person providing care for bleeding wounds should wear disposable gloves. This is a precautionary measure to ensure that the person is not exposed to the virus through tiny cuts in the hands that may be unnoticed.
The infected person should reserve a thermometer for personal use. It should be washed with warm soapy water after each use, soaked in rubbing alcohol for 10 minutes, dried and stored.
There has been no evidence of spread of HIV infection through saliva. Kissing, including tongue/deep kissing, is safe. However, if there are bleeding gum irritations in the mouth deep kissing should be avoided.
Although it seems to be too much that we are asking you to be careful about, but then your life matters. Being healthy yourself will indirectly help the HIV positive patient as well.
So take notes, be vigilant in taking HIV precautions for family members and live better. For more information on HIV management and caregiving, Sign up for Abudo’s online course on HIV and other life-threatening diseases.