Contact with the blood of an infected person – HIV
While the risk of serious infection from someone else’s blood or saliva is low, you should take the following steps immediately:
- wash the blood or saliva off your skin with soap and running water
- if your skin is broken, encourage the wound to bleed and rinse it thoroughly under running water, but do not scrub or suck the wound
- wash the blood or saliva out of your eyes with plenty of cold water – if you wear contact lenses, take them out first
- wash away the blood or body fluids with plenty of cold water – if you’re washing out your mouth, spit the water out instead of swallowing it
There are some infections that can be passed on in blood or body fluids that can become mixed with blood, such as saliva. These are known as blood-borne viruses (BBVs).
The risk of an infection being passed on in this way largely depends on the type of infection and how you come into contact with the infected blood.
Which infections can be passed on?
The main infections that can be passed on in blood are:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
Of these, hepatitis B is most likely to be spread through blood, and HIV is the least likely.
These viruses can also be found in body fluids other than blood, such as semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. Other body fluids such as urine, saliva and sweat only carry a very small risk of infection, unless they contain blood.
However, the presence of blood is not always obvious, and it is possible for someone to have one of these infections without realising it.