HIV/AIDS Precautions - Laboratories

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What should I know when employed in a laboratory?

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Consider blood and body fluids from all patients as infective. Refer to Routine Practices for preventing transmission of bloodborne infectious diseases.

Report immediately suspect fluid exposure, or a needlestick or sharp injury to a designated person or health care professional.   

Please also see the OSH Answers document HIV/AIDS in the Workplace for more information.

What personal protection should I wear?

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Wear gloves:

  • when processing blood or body fluid specimens
  • when handling contaminated articles
  • during cleaning and decontamination procedures

Change gloves after processing specimen.

Wear gowns while working with potentially infectious material.

Wear masks and protective eye wear:

  • if mucous membrane contact is likely
  • if there is potential for splashing

Remove protective clothing before leaving laboratory.

Wash hands:

  • after processing specimens
  • after completing laboratory activities
  • after removing protective clothing
  • after a glove tear or suspected glove leak
  • before leaving laboratory

Do not pipette by mouth.

What precautions should I follow when working with needles and sharps?

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  • Use needles only when there is no alternative. Consider needles and sharp instruments as being infected.
  • Use puncture-resistant containers. Label containers – for example "CAUTION: WASTE SHARPS".
  • Clean and sterilize reusable syringes before reusing.
  • Do not recap, bend, break or remove needles by hand from disposable syringes or otherwise handle after use.

When should I decontaminate laboratory materials and surfaces?

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Laboratory surfaces should be decontaminated:

  • After a spill of blood or body fluid. Disinfect with a medical grade disinfectant.
  • Before reprocessing contaminated material used in lab tests.
  • When work activities have been completed.

How should I dispose and transport contaminated laboratory test material?

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  • Place contaminated laboratory test material in bags and dispose according to policy for infectious waste.
  • Put specimen into a sturdy container with secure lid to prevent leaking.
  • Avoid contaminating outside of container and accompanying laboratory form.
  • Place container in a clear, impervious plastic bag.

  • Fact sheet last revised: 2017-03-01