>U Mom Knows Best: Why Dispose of Medical Waste After HIV Testing?

Monday, March 4, 2024

Why Dispose of Medical Waste After HIV Testing?


Tons of syringes, needles, blood vials, and other protective gear emerge as waste from each hospital bed every day. In this scenario, if you are suffering from HIV infection, your testing kits with HIV viral load may land up in the landfills if they are not managed properly, which possibly affects the waste managers in that area. Additionally, multiple water sources like drinking water or underground water get contaminated by the spreading virus from your test kits. So, you must properly sort, sanitize, and dispose of medical waste to prevent the outbreak of human infection and epidemics. 

When should you go for HIV testing? 

 According to CDC recommendations, you should incorporate HIV testing in your annual routine checkup if you belong to the age category of 13 to 64 years, even if you think that you are not at risk of HIV infection. But you should increase the frequency of HIV testing from once a year to once every 3 or 6 months if you have multiple sex partners or you recently had sex with a person with an unknown sexual history. 

 Likewise, even if you are above 64 years of age and are at risk of contracting HIV infection, your health service provider will ask you to get tested for HIV to remain safe. Additionally, if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you should go for some tests like HIV, Hepatitis, and syphilis as a part of prenatal care

 If your situation matches the given list of multiple scenarios, then you should not at all delay the testing schedules.  

+ As a man, did you have sex with another man?

+ Did you have anal or vaginal sex with a partner with an HIV infection?

+ Did you have sex with multiple partners after you got your last HIV test results?

+ Did you trade sex for money or drug substances?

+ Did you recently recover from any sexually transmitted diseases? 

+ Do you have a history of getting infected by tuberculosis? 

+ Have you been sexually abused by someone with a greater risk of HIV infection? 

 If you positively affirm and agree with the above statements, then you should not postpone your HIV testing plans. You never know if you have been affected by HIV infection until you go for a test. Sometimes, it's too late because you may not get the right and efficient treatment, and on top of that, you become a proper transporting agent of HIV infection in your surroundings. 

Can you use HIV self-testing kits?

 You can definitely use self-testing HIV kits in the comfort of your home or office. Self-test kits are available for you to buy in your nearby pharmacy or online stores and consist of two options, as mentioned below. However, you can access free or subsidized self-test kits in your local health department or other health service providers or organizations. 

 + Rapid Self-Test Kits

 This HIV self-test is an antibody test that allows you to get quick results within 20 minutes. In the US, the oral fluid test is the only FDA-approved rapid self-test wherein you should collect your oral fluid samples from your gums for tests instead of blood. 

 Remember to follow each of the manufacturer's instructions to ensure accurate and valid test results. If you have any difficulties, you can contact the manufacturer by using their contact details to understand the right procedure.

+ Mail-in Self-Test Kits

 While rapid self-test kits allow you to get fast results at home, mail-in self-test is an antigen/antibody test where you have to store your blood samples in a specimen collection kit and mail them to the defined laboratory to get results. Once the healthcare professionals complete your test, they will contact you with the results of your report. 

How much should you wait before you test yourself against HIV infection? 

 Not sure when to test yourself against HIV infection? Well, it all depends on the type of test that you wish to purchase. Explore the window period for each of the HIV tests below and accordingly plan your test schedules to get accurate results.

+ Antibody Tests: If you are using rapid self-test kits, these antibody tests will detect HIV infection from 23 to 90 days post-exposure. 

+ Rapid Antigen/Antibody Tests: If it has been 18 to 90 days after you have been exposed to HIV, these tests can produce accurate results by collecting blood specimens using a finger stick. 

+ Antigen/ Antibody Lab Test: If you have withdrawn blood samples from your vein, these lab tests will detect the virus after 18 to 45 days of exposure.

+ Nucleic Acid Test (NAT): This test is considered more reliable and allows you to get test results after only 10 to 33 days of exposure. 

If you strongly feel that you have been exposed to HIV and you are tested negative against the infection, your test results can be doubtful, so get yourself tested once again after your window period is over. 

Sources of medical waste

 Indeed, it's less hectic to complete the HIV testing process within the comfort of your private space. Still, once you are done with getting the results, you must take extra care during medical waste disposal and sanitization. 

 Medical waste generated from hospitals, pharmacies, or nursing homes varies depending on the materials it possesses. It can range from infectious to simply general or non-hazardous waste with no potential risk to humans or animals. Here is a list of possible sources that require efficient medical waste disposal procedures. 

+ Hospitals and other medical units

+ Medical research centers

+ Human and animal laboratories

+ Mortuary and autopsy centers

+ Blood bank

+ Elderly care units and nursing homes

+ HIV self-test kits

What happens if you do not follow proper medical waste disposal techniques? 

 Waste generators, either an individual or an organization, are responsible for managing any medical kit that is hazardous as it contains infectious bodily fluids and blood content. If you are not disposing of medical waste properly, you are risking the lives of many.

Possible effects of improper disposal of medical waste lead to the following adversities. 

+ Cuts and injuries by sharp pointed objects. 

+ While handling waste during incineration, the toxins of antibiotics and other cytotoxic drugs may be infused into the atmosphere.

+ Chemical and radiation burns and sewage poisoning. 

+ Incineration of medical waste can pollute the air with human carcinogens, resulting in degraded health conditions. 

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