Health Science Students - Blood Borne Pathogen Exposure

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Time is of the essence!  Protect yourself!

Blood and body fluids can be infected with Hepatitis or HIV.  Exposures to blood borne pathogens can occur via a needle stick or mucus membrane splash/splatter.

Campus Health Services offers care to UNC students who may have had a blood borne pathogen exposure.  This service is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.  When Campus Health Services is closed, the physician on call can be contacted through HealthLink, a nurse advice service affiliated with UNC Healthcare.   If you have had a possible exposure to blood borne pathogens, follow the steps below:

Step 1.  Immediately clean the affected area. 

For splashes to the nose, mouth or eyes, flush the area with water.  Irrigate the eyes with clean water, saline or sterile irrigants. If you are stuck with a sharp, clean the site with soap and water

Step 2.  Immediately notify your supervisor (clinical instructor, resident, attending, etc) to document the incident.

Step 3.  Obtain source patient information (patient name, medical record number and location).



After hours and weekends, ask the Health Link nurse to page the on-call CHS physician.   

If the exposure occurred at a clinical site outside of Chapel Hill, still call the Campus Health Services physician.  Follow the instructions provided for you at that site. The Campus Health Services medical provider and your supervisor will help you determine if your exposure fits the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition of a blood borne pathogen exposure.


For Source Patient Testing

Dental student:  Inform the dental clinical instructor and follow the protocol on the dental school’s website.

Any other student:  Campus Health Services will help coordinate source patient testing for you.  Please have source patient's name and medical record number available.


Baseline Testing for Yourself for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C

Baseline testing for you is ordered through Campus Health Services if the source patient is positive for HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C and is warranted by the situation.  If UNC Campus Health is closed, the CHS physician will advise you as to whether an urgent evaluation at another medical clinic is warranted or if testing can wait until our clinic is open.  An urgent evaluation is usually needed only when post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is indicated.

Source Patient HIV/Hepatitis B/Hepatitis C risk/status

  • If source patient is known HIV-positive or high risk for HIV: Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)  will likely be recommended.  If PEP is recommended, it should be started as soon as possible! 
  • If source patient is positive for Hepatitis B: If you have an adequate HBsAb titer, no further action is necessary.  If your titer is inadequate, Hepatitis B immune globulin will be given to you and you should have follow-up testing.
  • If source patient is positive for Hepatitis C: There is no known prophylaxis for Hepatitis C.  You should, however, receive follow-up testing after the exposure.