Health Science Students - Blood Borne Pathogen Exposure

Health Science Students - Blood Borne Pathogen Exposure

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 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 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.

Examples include your clinical instructor, resident, attending, etc. to document the incident, order source patient labs and to start the process of getting the source patient's blood drawn.

Step 3. Obtain source patient information.

Gather the patient name, birth date, medical record number and location. See the "For Source Patient Testing" section below.

Step 4. Call Campus Health at 919-966-6573.

You will be connected to a medical personnel that can assist you with the blood borne pathogen exposure. If Campus Health is closed, you will be connected to an automated message which will then transfer you to a Health Link nurse. The Health Link nurse will contact the Campus Health physician on call for you.  

If the exposure occurred at a clinical site outside of Chapel Hill, still call the Campus Health number above and follow the instructions provided for you.

For Source Patient Testing

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

Any other health sciences student: Campus Health will help coordinate source patient testing for you. Please have source patient's name, date of birth and medical record number available.

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

Baseline testing for you, if warranted, is ordered through Campus Health if you are seen at the Campus Health clinic.  If UNC Campus Health is closed, the Campus Health 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 had 3 hepatitis B vaccines and a subsequent adequate quantitative HBsAb titer, no further action is necessary.  If your titer is inadequate, Hepatitis B immune globulin should 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.