Could emphasising sharps safety procedures lead to higher vaccine uptake

Wednesday May 24 2017

We often talk about the risk of HIV and hepatitis C transmission that comes with needlestick injuries, but are you aware that there are rules surrounding these infections when it comes to donating blood too?

Following the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena in the UK earlier this week, local people queued at their local blood donation centres to give blood to help the 59 victims of the attack reported to be injured in hospital, many of whom are believed to be in a critical state.

Thanks to people's generosity, the health service soon had enough blood donations to cope with its current demand, but many people still flocked to the NHS blood donor website to find out how they could play a role in saving lives in the future.

The website explains who can and can't give blood, with an entire section devoted to the rules surrounding people who may have been exposed to blood-borne infections such as hepatitis C and HIV. 

Men who have had oral or anal sex with other men within the last 12 months, either with or without protection, are not allowed to give blood, which the website emphasises is not a discriminatory move, but rather that "it reflects statistical risks for the sexual behaviour that increases the risk of virus transmission".

People who have suffered a needlestick injury and have not been tested for HIV and hepatitis C are also unable to give blood, as are people who have injected drugs. 

Therefore, any healthcare workers who want to be blood donors themselves should make sure to always use specialist needle safety devices when administering injections. These pieces of equipment are designed to make sure that needles cannot be used if they are broken or have already been used and are subsequently contaminated, meaning their bloodstreams should not be put at risk of infection.

Blood donors in the UK also have to weigh more than seven stone (50 kilograms) and be aged between 17 and 69, with pregnant women, those who have recently been tattooed or received a piercing and over-70s who have already donated within the past two years also barred from donating.
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