Healthcare Workers: Preventing HIV Infection

Hands putting on surgical gloves.

HIV is spread from person to person through body fluids. To prevent the spread of HIV, follow CDC infection control guidelines. You learned these in school or your healthcare facility. These guidelines are there for your health and safety.

Use CDC guidelines

Learn and follow universal precautions. Also, review your employer’s policies. Below are general tips based on the CDC guidelines. They can help protect you from HIV:

  • Wear gloves any time you may contact any body fluid (except sweat), mucous membrane, or broken skin. Change gloves and wash your hands between patients.

  • Wash hands fully after contact with body fluids. Also, wash right away after taking off gloves.

  • Dispose of needles the right way. Put them in a puncture-resistant container right after use. Do not recap, bend, or break needles. Do not remove them from the syringe.

  • Wear protective clothing like masks, goggles, and gowns anytime body fluids may splash or spray.

  • Keep manual ventilation devices handy. Disposable devices, such as resuscitation bags and mouthpieces, should be easy to see and reach.

Post-exposure prophylaxis

In the event that you believe you have been exposed to HIV, it is important to take quick action.

  1. Get evaluated, either at your local ER or at employee health (this should be within hours of exposure).

  2. Start post-exposure prophylaxis.

  3. Follow up as directed while on post-exposure prophylaxis.


The CDC has developed infection control guidelines called Standard Precautions. These guidelines help prevent the spread of all germs. This includes HIV. Follow them per your employer’s policies.