Safe laboratory handling of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) presents paradoxical extremes to lab chiefs: The odds that a lab worker will become infected with HIV on the job are extremely low, according to studies sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta; but experience indicates that the consequences of infection are almost always fatal. Even noting the minority scientific view that HIV is not the cause of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a better-safe-than-sorry attitude demands that researchers take thorough precautions.
According to the concept of "universal precautions," all human blood and certain human body fluids are treated as if known to be infectious for HIV or other bloodborne pathogens. The following practices, compiled from materials published by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, can help lab workers put universal precautions into practice:

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