Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a potential hazard to healthcare personnel (HCP) and their patients. The most important strategy for reducing the risk of HAIs is exposure prevention. For this reason federal, state, and local agencies and professional organizations repeatedly emphasize the importance of Standard and Transmission-based Precautions as the foundation for preventing the transmission of pathogenic organisms during patient care in all healthcare settings.
Much of the vigilance concerning HAIs was initiated in response to concerns related to the transmission the hepatitis B virus and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the United States approximately 50,000 people become newly infected with the HIV each year, 1.2 million people are living with HIV, and (3) nearly 13 percent of those infected with HIV are not aware of their infectious status.1