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Break the Cycle of Infection

Tips that Will Keep You Healthy


Updated June 19, 2014

Because HIV slowly weakens the immune system, those infected with HIV are more susceptible to infections than those with normal immune systems. So the key to living healthy is to control the HIV and to stop infections from occuring. Let's examine infection control more closely.

How do infections spread?

For an infection to spread 4 conditions must be present.
  1. A germ must be present. Examples include:
    • virus
    • fungus
    • bacterium
    • parasite

  2. The germ must have a place to live and multiply such as:
    • people
    • plants
    • food
    • soil
    • water

  3. A susceptiple host, specifically a person who does not have immunity to the germ.

  4. A way for the germ to enter the host such as:
    • direct contact (touch, sexual contact, kissing, etc)
    • indirect contact (through contaminated food, water, feces, etc.)
    • water droplets
    • particles in the air
Removing any one of these four conditions breaks the chain of infection, thus preventing the infection from spreading. So to prevent infection, we must remove one of the four links in the infection. But how?

How can we break the chain of infection?

Preventing infection means looking at your habits, lifestyles, and surroundings and assessing for those things that may promote infection. By identifying those things in the infection chain, we can take steps to eliminate them. For instance:
  • Practice good personal hygeine
  • Treat all bodily fluids as potentially infectious.
  • Use protective barriers such as gloves, masks, aprons, and condoms when exposure to infections agents is possible.
  • Maintain a clean home and enviroment.
  • Store and cook foods at the proper temperature.
  • Proper disposal of wastes, garbage, and used medical supplies
  • See your doctor regularly for protective vaccines and immunizations.

Wash your hands often!

Frequent and proper handwashing is key in preventing the spread of infection.
  • Wash your hands before handling or eating food.

  • Wash your hands after:
    • using the toilet
    • changing a diaper
    • coughing sneezing or blowing your nose
    • handling a pet
    • preparing or handling uncooked foods

  • Wash your hands before and after:
    • cleaning cuts or abrasions
    • changing bandages or soiled linens

Control infections throughout your home

Your home can be a breeding ground for germs that can cause infection. Reduce the risk of spreading infection by:
  • Improve your home's air quality by increasing air circulation, changing your furnace filters, and maintain good ventilation by opening windows.

  • Be cautious with pet care
    • change litter boxes daily
    • avoid handing bird droppings
    • avoid handling fish tank water

  • Use liquid hand soap instead of bar soap

  • Change bathroom linens frequently, especially after they become wet

  • Replace toothbrushes often and store them in a clean, dry place

  • Use disposable drinking cups in the bathroom instead of reusable drinking glasses

  • Disinfect the toilet regularly using bleach (always use rubber gloves and eye protection when handling bleach).

  • Clean sinks and tubs with a household cleaner

  • Mop the floor each week with a standard floor cleaner

Controlling infection in the kitchen

The kitchen is a prime location for the spread of germs and infection. Reduce your risk by:
  • Store food properly
    • refrigerate leftovers immediately
    • clean your refrigerator weekly
    • set your refrigerator temperature at 40 degrees F or less and your freezer at 0 degrees or less
    • thaw foods in a microwave instaed of at room temperature

  • Handle meats, fish and eggs properly
    • never eat them raw
    • cook them at proper temperatures
    • never buy cracked eggs

  • Wash fruits and vegetables under running water

  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for cooked and raw foods.

  • Clean the can opener after each use

  • Keep work surfaces clean

  • Wash your hands immediately after handling raw foods, especially meats and poultry

  • Wash used dishes in hot, soapy water or a dishwasher and allow to air dry.

By taking the proper precautions and following a few simple rules, you can decrease your risk of infection. Help your immune system keep you healthy. Break that chain of infection.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. AIDS / HIV
  4. HIV-Associated Illnesses
  5. Associated Illnesses
  6. Break the Cycle of Infection - Prevention

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