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4.1 Universal Precautions

Universal Precautions is a method of infection control in which all human/non-human primate (NHP) blood, certain body fluids, fresh tissues and cells of human/NHP origin are handled as if they are known to be infected with HIV, HBV and or other bloodborne pathogens.

The range of tasks performed by personnel who have an inherent BBP risk (and a compelling reason to practice Universal Precautions) can include, but are not limited to:

  • Procedures performed on human/NHP blood, serum, blood components or other potentially infectious material/specimens of human/NHP origin, especially those involving needles, scalpels, blades or other sharps.
  • Blood draws or finger sticks on humans using hypodermic needles, lancets, etc.
  • Research involving the cultivation or manipulation of HIV, HBV or HCV.
  • Research using human/NHP cell lines and tissue cultures.
  • Biowaste handling, decontamination and disposal

In any research setting that manipulates biohazardous materials – cultured microorganisms, cell lines, viral vectors, specimen material, recombinant material, biowaste, etc. – it is recommended that this method become your general approach to handling those materials.

Universal Precautions are summarized below:

  • Assume that all blood is positive for HIV, HBV, and HCV.
  • Assume that all other human fluids/tissues (as well as other types of biological material) are infectious as well.
  • When it’s difficult to differentiate, treat ALL fluids (e.g., culture material, etc.) as potentially infectious.
  • Assume that all individuals are carrying these disease organisms, and avoid skin contact with blood and other potentially infectious materials, such as in instances of providing first aid, etc.
  • Avoid eye, nose and mouth contact with blood and with other potentially infectious materials.
  • Avoid punctures/sticks with contaminated sharp objects.