Last update May 16, 2019

Accidental exposure to biological material HIV-HBV-HCV

Low Risk

Possibly safe. Probably compatible. Mild risk possible. Follow up recommended. Read the Comment.

Accidental, unexpected, unwanted exposure to biological material from a person potentially infected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) may lead to infection of the exposed person through a puncture, a lesion of the skin or mucous membranes of the mouth, eyes, vagina or rectum (HGA 2016, SPNS 2015, GeSIDA 2015).
Exposure can be occupational, OE (in the field of work, generally sanitary) by means of punctures or splashes and non-occupational, NOE, (punctures, bites, sexual contact without protection or due to protection failure, sexual assaults).

This article does not deal with the exposure of infants to the breastmilk of an HIV+ mother.

INFECTING FLUIDS AND TISSUES (Carrion 2018, CDC 2016, Goldschmidt 2016, HGA 2016, SPNS 2015, GeSIDA 2015, Ford 2015, WHO 2014, Azkune 2011, Chin 2010, McCarthy 2002):

The fluids that can infect are: blood, semen, vaginal secretions, breastmilk, cerebrospinal, pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, amniotic and synovial fluids and tissues, organs, cell cultures and laboratory virus concentrates. The following are not considered infectious: sweat, saliva, sputum, vomit, nasal mucus, tears, urine, or faeces, unless they have visible blood


In OE there is 0.3% (0.2-0.5%) risk of HIV transmission, 1.8% (0-7%) of HCV and 6 to 30% of HBV transmission.
If the exposure was to blood with high viral load, it is necessary to use PEP. With a high viral load (<40 copies/mL), individually assess the PEP. With exposure to liquids which are not considered infectious, do not use PEP.

The most frequent NOE is sexual intercourse without protection or with protection failure (condoms). The contact status is not usually known. There is greater risk in case of rape with bleeding, if the contact does not receive ART and its viral load is greater than 1,500 copies/ml: PEP indicated.
PEP not indicated after kissing, scratching and punctures from discarded needles.

Immediately wash with water and soap or saline solution, let blood flow and disinfect.
Contact-source analytic: HBsAg, HCV Ag, HIV and viral load (VL-HIV-1) and type of antiretroviral treatment (ART). The results should be known in 2 hours.
Analytics of exposed persons: anti-HIV, anti-HCV and anti-HBV (Anti-HBs, Anti-HBc, HBsAg), blood count, renal and hepatic function, state of HB and tetanus vaccination.
In addition, in sexual assaults: pregnancy, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, HSV, HPV and trichomoniasis tests.

PEP of HBV, HCV, TETANUS AND SEXUAL ASSAULT (Tan 2018, HGA 2016, SPNS 2015, GeSIDA 2015, Ford 2015, WHO 2014):
If the exposed person is not HB vaccinated or has an anti-HBs titre <10 mUI/ml, vaccinate and administer anti-HBV gammaglobulin in the first 72 hours. HCV does not have an effective prophylaxis, the situation must be monitored.
Evaluate in wounds and punctures, vaccinate against tetanus.
PEP of sexual assaults: include antibiotic guidelines: Ceftriaxone + Metronidazole + Azithromycin or Doxycycline or Cefixime.

HIV PEP (Muller 2018, Carrion 2018, Tan 2018, WHO 2016, CDC 2016, Goldschmidt 2016, HGA 2016, SPNS 2015, GeSIDA 2015, WHO 2014, Azkune 2011, Chin 2010):
If PEP is indicated, start it immediately and, if necessary, withdraw it later. Start PEP within 24 hours and not beyond 72 hours.

Daily for 28 days: [Tenofovir (TDF) / Emtricitabine (FTC)] + Raltegravir (RAL). In renal failure (HGA 2016) substitute TDF / FTC for Zidovudine (ZDV) + Lamivudine (3TC)
Alternative to RAL: co-formulated combination of Ritonavir (r) with Darunavir (DRV), Atazanavir (ATV) or Lopinavir (LPV).
Infants older than 1 month and children: ZDV + 3TC + Ral or LPV/r. The 3TC can be replaced by Emtricitabine (FTC).

Clinical and analytical follow-up at 1.5, 3 and 6 months is recommended.

Breastfeeding mothers exposed to HBV or HCV or sexually transmitted diseases can continue to breastfeed (HGA 2016). HBV and HCV are not transmitted through breastmilk. The necessary treatments are compatible with breastfeeding (CDC 2016).
If a breastfeeding mother who has been exposed to HIV has been classified as low risk and does not need PEP, she can continue to breastfeed.
If the exposure was classified as high risk, the mother should be informed that PEP is very effective in preventing infection, but does not involve zero risk: there has been occasional failures with various explanations (Muller 2018, CDC 2016, MSE 2015 , GeSIDA 2015, Beckmann 2014, Roland 2005) and that the medication used in PEP is compatible with breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding does not contraindicate PEP, but the risks and benefits of continuing breastfeeding should be discussed with the mother (WHO 2014).

See below the information of these related products:

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.


Accidental exposure to biological material HIV-HBV-HCV belongs to this group or family:


  1. Muller WJ, Chadwick EG. Pediatric Considerations for Postexposure Human Immunodeficiency Virus Prophylaxis. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2018 Mar;32(1):91-101. Abstract
  2. Carrion AJ, Miles JD, Mosley JF, Smith LL, Prather AS, Gurley MM Jr, Phan LD, Everton EC. Prevention Strategies Against HIV Transmission: A Proactive Approach. J Pharm Pract. 2018 Feb;31(1):82-90. Abstract
  3. Tan DHS, Hull MW, Yoong D, Tremblay C, O'Byrne P, Thomas R, Kille J, Baril JG, Cox J, Giguere P, Harris M, Hughes C, MacPherson P, O'Donnell S, Reimer J, Singh A, Barrett L, Bogoch I, Jollimore J, Lambert G, Lebouche B, Metz G, et al. Canadian guideline on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis and nonoccupational postexposure prophylaxis. CMAJ. 2017 Nov 27;189(47):E1448-E1458. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  4. CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Updated Guidelines for Antiretroviral Postexposure Prophylaxis After Sexual, Injection Drug Use, or Other Nonoccupational Exposure to HIV— United States. nPEP Guidelines Update. 2016 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  5. Goldschmidt RH. CDC Releases Updated Guidelines for Postexposure Prophylaxis After Sexual, Injection Drug, or Other Nonoccupational Exposures to HIV. Am Fam Physician. 2016 Sep 1;94(5):392-3. No abstract available. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  6. Ford N, Mayer KH; World Health Organization Postexposure Prophylaxis Guideline Development Group.. World Health Organization Guidelines on Postexposure Prophylaxis for HIV: Recommendations for a Public Health Approach. Clin Infect Dis. 2015 Jun 1;60 Suppl 3:S161-4. Abstract Full text (in our servers)
  7. WHO. Guidelines on post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV and the use of co-trimoxazole prophylaxis for HIV-related infections among adults, adolescents and children: recommendations for a public health approach. Guideline. 2014 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  8. Beekmann SE, Henderson DK. Prevention of human immunodeficiency virus and AIDS: postexposure prophylaxis (including health care workers). Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2014 Dec;28(4):601-13. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  9. Azkune H, Ibarguren M, Camino X, Iribarren JA. Prevención de la transmisión del VIH (vertical, ocupacional y no ocupacional). [Prevention of HIV transmission (vertical, occupational and non-occupational)]. Enferm Infecc Microbiol Clin. 2011 Oct;29(8):615-25. Abstract
  10. Chin RL. Postexposure prophylaxis for HIV. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2010 May;28(2):421-9, Table of Contents. Abstract
  11. Roland ME, Neilands TB, Krone MR, Katz MH, Franses K, Grant RM, Busch MP, Hecht FM, Shacklett BL, Kahn JO, Bamberger JD, Coates TJ, Chesney MA, Martin JN. Seroconversion following nonoccupational postexposure prophylaxis against HIV. Clin Infect Dis. 2005 Nov 15;41(10):1507-13. Epub 2005 Oct 13. Abstract Full text (in our servers)
  12. McCarthy GM, Ssali CS, Bednarsh H, Jorge J, Wangrangsimakul K, Page-Shafer K. Transmission of HIV in the dental clinic and elsewhere. Oral Dis. 2002;8 Suppl 2:126-35. Review. Abstract

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