Care of the Bleeding Athlete in the Age of AIDS?

Blood borne pathogens are a potential problem for athletes and coaches, and every effort should be made to limit blood exposure.
The preferred person to handle a blood situation is the bleeding athlete. A minor should not be asked to clean or care for a blood incident unless the minor is the bleeder.

Coaches should wear gloves when working with a bleeding athlete.

The competition site or the coach should make provisions for bloody waste disposal in a sport that is commonly known to have blood incidents. The bleeding athlete should not return to the match or game until bleeding is controlled.

What is the risk of blood borne disease in athletes and coaches?

The risk of contracting HIV or AIDS is very slim. There have been no published cases of HIV transmission in athletes during competition or practice.

There are, however, case reports of hepatitis B transmission in athletics. The incidence of hepatitis B is up to 38 percent in some teen-age subpopulations. These teen-agers are often involved in sports and can also carry and transmit other diseases like hepatitis C.

How do you protect coaches and ahtletes?

Let the most trained person take charge of the situation. When you have the luxury of an on-site certified athletic trainer, let them do their job. They are there to help you and your athletes.

Carry and use gloves to protect you and your athletes.

Have bloody waste disposal bags on site to isolate body and blood waste.

Use soft paper towels to clean the bleeding athlete and dispose of the waste paper immediately.
Do not let your athletes return to competition until bleeding is completely stopped and the wound is covered. That includes allowing your athletes to return to competition against an opponent who has a bleeding injury.

Finally, make sure you have the proper cleaning agents to mop up blood spills on the competition surface, skin and uniforms.

It is up to each athletic program to offer blood borne pathogens instruction on an annual basis for coaches and athletes. It is up to the coaches to see the policies are in effect and used in both practice and competition.

A blood borne pathogens policy is for the protection of your health and the health of your athletes.