A Guide to Safe Practice in Art & Design

4.9   First Aid and HIV

Qualified first aiders will be aware of the precautions that must be taken to avoid possible infection by the HIV virus, but it is essential that anyone administering aid to an injured person should also know what to do. There are standard precautions that reduce the risk of transmitting other infections, including hepatitis, and they are equally effective against HIV.

Exposed cuts and abrasions should always be covered up before giving treatment to an injured person and hands should be washed before and after applying dressings.

Whenever blood or other body fluids have to be mopped up, disposable plastic gloves and an apron should be worn; these items should then be placed in plastic bags and disposed of safely, preferably by burning. Clothing may be cleaned in an ordinary washing machine using the hot cycle.

The HIV virus is killed by household bleach and the area in which any spills have occurred should be disinfected using one part of bleach to ten parts of water; caution should be exercised as bleach is corrosive and can be harmful to the skin.

If direct contact with another person's blood or other body fluids occurs the area should be washed as soon as possible with ordinary soap and water. Clean cold water should be used if the lips, mouth, tongue, eyes or broken skin are affected, and medical advice should be sought.

Mouthpieces are available for first aiders giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but properly trained persons only must use them. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation should never be withheld in an emergency because a mouthpiece is not available. No case of infection has been reported from any part of the world as a result of giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

For further information see the Health and Safety Executive booklet Blood-borne viruses in the workplace which can be accessed at: www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg342.pdf and in Guidance on First Aid in Schools which can be accessed at: www.teachernet.gov.uk/_doc/4421/GFAS.pdf