A blood-borne disease is one that can be spread through contamination by blood.
The most common examples are HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and viral hemorrhagic fevers.
Diseases that are not usually transmitted directly by blood contact, but rather by insect or other vector, are more usefully classified as vector-borne disease, even though the causative agent can be found in blood. Vector-borne diseases include West Nile virus and malaria.
Many blood-borne diseases can also be transmitted by other means, including high-risk sexual behavior or intravenous drug use.
Since it is difficult to determine what pathogens any given blood contains, and some blood-borne diseases are lethal, standard medical practice regards all blood (and any body fluid) as potentially infectious. Blood and Body Fluid precautions are a type of infection control practice that seeks to minimize this sort of disease transmission.
Blood poses the greatest threat to health in a laboratory or clinical setting due to needlestick injuries (e.g., lack of proper needle disposal techniques and/or safety syringes).
Blood for blood transfusion is screened for many blood-borne diseases. Additionally, a technique that uses a combination of riboflavin and UV light to inhibit the replication of these pathogens by altering their nucleic acids can be used to treat blood components prior to their transfusion, and can reduce the risk of disease transmission. Technology using the synthetic psoralen, amotosalen HCl, and UVA light (320-400 nm) has been implemented in European blood centers for the treatment of platelet and plasma components to prevent transmission of blood-borne diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, and protozoa
Needle exchanges are an attempt to reduce the spread of blood-borne diseases in intravenous drug users.
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“Drug misuse is not a disease, it is a decision, like the decision to step out in front of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error of judgment.”
—Philip K. Dick (19281982)