Wearing Gloves

Protecting yourself from infection includes avoiding contact with all bodily fluids that might contain the HIV virus.

Because the virus that causes AIDS is in the blood of infected persons, blood or other body fluids that have blood in them (such as bloody feces) could infect you. You can protect yourself by following some simple steps. Wear gloves:

  • If you have to touch semen, vaginal fluid, cuts, sores, blood, or other body fluids
  • To give care to the mouth, rectum, or genitals of a loved one with AIDS
  • To change diapers or sanitary pads or to empty bedpans or urinals
  • To clean up urine, feces, or vomit to avoid all the germs that might be present
  • If you have any cuts, sores, rashes, or breaks in your skin, or cover them with a bandage if they cannot be covered with gloves

The two types of gloves recommended for use are disposable, hospital-type latex and vinyl gloves. Use these gloves one time, and throw them away. Do not use latex gloves more than once even if they’re marked “reusable.” You can buy hospital-type gloves by the box at most drug stores, along with urinals, bedpans, and many other medical supplies. Many insurance companies and Medicaid will pay for these gloves if a doctor writes a prescription for them.

When Cleaning Up Blood Or Bloody Fluids:

  • Wear household rubber gloves, which are sold at any drug or grocery store. These gloves can be cleaned and reused.
  • Clean them with hot, soapy water and with a mixture of bleach and water (about 1/4 cup bleach with 1 gallon of water).
  • Be sure not to use gloves that are peeling, cracked, or have holes in them. Don’t use rubber gloves to take care of a person with AIDS; they are too thick and bulky.
  • Clean up spilled blood as soon as you can. Put on gloves, wipe up the blood with paper towels or rags, and put the used paper towels or rags in plastic bags and seal the bag. Wash the area where the blood was with a mix of bleach and water. Since HIV can be in semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk, you should be as careful when cleaning up these fluids as you are with blood.

If you get any body fluid that might contain blood in your eyes, nose, or mouth, immediately pour as much water as possible over exposed area. Then call the doctor, explain what happened, and ask what else you should do.

To take gloves off, peel them down by turning them inside out. This will keep the wet side on the inside, away from your skin. When you take the gloves off, wash your hands with soap and water right away. If there is a lot of blood, wear an apron or smock to keep your clothes from getting bloody. (If your loved one bleeds a lot or very often, call his or her doctor immediately.)

© Copyright FamilyCare America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Adapted from Caring for Someone with AIDS at Home: A Guide, ACTIS Publication No. D817, United States Department of Health and Human Services, AIDS Clinical Trial Information Service.

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