HIV/AIDS & Child Care

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), the virus that leads to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is transmitted from one person to another by blood, body fluids containing blood, vaginal secretions, sperm, breast milk, and through unprotected intercourse or sharing contaminated needles. It is also transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or by breastfeeding.

In order to transmit HIV three conditions must be present:

    * The blood must be fresh
    * It must be in a sufficient quantity
    * It must have a route of entry into the bloodstream of the infected person.

Keeping Safe

It is important for child care centres and family dayhome providers to adopt universal precautions to control the spread of any infection, including HIV. Where blood is involved, it is also important to use universal precautions, the measures developed to deal with blood-borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis B. These universal precautions include:

    * Wash hands immediately after exposure to blood
    * Cover cuts
    * Use absorbent material to stop bleeding
    * Wear disposable latex gloves when there is a lot of blood or if you have open cuts. Wash hands immediately after removing gloves
    * Immediately clean blood-soiled surfaces with a bleach solution (household bleach kills HIV)
    * Machine-wash bloodstained laundry separately in hot soapy water
    * Place bloodstained materials in sealed plastic bags and discard in a lined, covered garbage container.

HIV is a fragile virus, and no cases of transmission through casual contact have been reported in child care anywhere in the world. HIV is not transmitted by:

    * Touching, hugging, or kissing
    * Sharing food, dishes, drinking glasses, or cutlery
    * Being coughed, sneezed or cried on
    * Sharing toys, even those that have been mouthed
    * Diapers or toilet seats
    * Urine, stool, vomit, saliva, mucus, or sweat (as long as it is untainted by blood).

Adapted from the Canadian Child Care Federation's Resource Sheet #33, HIV/AIDS AND CHILD CARE.