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©Phil Stapleton


When you finish this chapter you will be able to:

  • Explain what bloodborne pathogens are and how they can infect fitness professionals and athletes.

  • Describe the transmission, symptoms and signs, and treatment of hepatitis B (HBV).

  • Describe the transmission, signs and symptoms, management, and treatment of hepatitis C (HCV).

  • Describe the transmission, symptoms, and signs of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.

  • Describe how HIV is most often transmitted.

  • List the pros and cons of sports participation of athletes with an HBV or HIV infection.

  • Identify universal precautions as mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and how they apply to the coach.

  • Discuss the various types of skin wounds and how they should be managed.

It has always been important for any health care provider to be concerned with maintaining an environment that is as clean and sterile as possible.2,10 In today's society, it has become critical for everyone in the population to take measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.13,28 Failure to do so may expose any individual to potentially life-threatening situations.3

Because of the close physical contact that occurs through athletic participation, the potential for spread of infectious disease among fitness professionals, coaches, athletes, and sports medicine personnel is of major concern. Everyone must be aware of the potential dangers of exposure to blood or other infectious materials and take whatever measures are necessary to prevent contamination (Figure 9–1).13 There should be an emergency action plan developed and policies in place for dealing with bloodborne pathogens and infectious diseases.


Precautions must be taken to prevent exposure and transmission of bloodborne pathogens. ©William E. Prentice

Bloodborne pathogens:

  • Hepatitis B (HBV)

  • Hepatitis C (HCV)

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)


Bloodborne pathogens are pathogenic microorganisms that can potentially cause disease. They may be present in human blood and other bodily fluids including semen, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, and any other fluid contaminated with blood.1,21,24 The three most significant blood-borne pathogens include the hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).1 A number of other blood-borne diseases exist, including hepatitis A, hepatitis D, hepatitis E, and syphilis. Although HIV has been more widely addressed in the media, HBV and HCV have a higher possibility for spread.24 HBV is stronger and more durable than HIV.12 HBV can be spread more easily via sharp objects, open wounds, or bodily fluids when compared to HIV.

Mode of transmission:

  • Human blood

  • Semen

  • Vaginal secretions

  • Cerebrospinal fluid

  • Synovial fluid

Hepatitis B Virus

HBV ...

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