Hesperian Health Guides

Preventing infection at home

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HealthWiki > A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities > Chapter 8: Sexual health: Preventing sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS > Preventing infection at home

a pot of water boiling on a fire.

Many people think HIV can spread easily. This is not true. If you follow these guidelines, there is no risk of spreading HIV or hepatitis from an infected person to others around her, or of getting HIV or hepatitis yourself:

  • Do not share anything that touches blood. This includes razors, needles, any sharp instruments that cut the skin, and toothbrushes. If you must share such things, boil them first in water for 20 minutes.
  • Keep all wounds covered with a clean bandage or cloth. Persons with or without HIV or hepatitis should do this.
  • Burn or bury soiled bandages that cannot be rewashed.
  • Avoid touching body fluids with your bare hands. Use a piece of plastic or paper, gloves, or a big leaf to handle dirty bandages, cloths, blood, vomit, or stool.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after changing dirty bedding and clothes.
  • Keep bedding and clothing clean. To clean soiled bedding or clothes:
    • keep them separate from other household laundry.
    • hold an unstained part and rinse off any body fluids with water.
    • wash the bedding and clothing in soapy water, hang to dry—if possible in the sun — and fold or iron as usual.
  • When washing dirty laundry, it is helpful, but not necessary, to wear gloves or plastic bags on your hands.

Other Ways to Prevent HIV

  • Treat sexually transmitted infections early. Having one STI can make it easier to become infected with HIV or other STIs.
  • Do not have an injection unless you are sure the instruments are sterilized first. Health workers should NEVER reuse a needle or syringe without sterilizing it first.
  • Never share a needle or syringe with someone else unless it is first sterilized with bleach or boiled for 20 minutes.
2 latex gloves and 2 plastic bags (for handling body fluids safely).
  • Make sure instruments for circumcision, ear piercing, acupuncture, and traditional practices such as scarring, are boiled for 20 minutes.
  • Handle body fluids, like blood, vomit, stool, and urine safely.
  • All blood should be tested to ensure it is free from HIV and hepatitis. Even if it is tested, avoid blood transfusions except in life-threatening emergencies.