What are blood-borne viruses?
Blood-borne viruses (BBVs) are viruses that some people carry in their blood and can be spread from one person to another. Those infected with a BBV may show little or no symptoms of serious disease, but other infected people may be severely ill. You can become infected with a virus whether the person who infects you appears to be ill or not – indeed, they may be unaware they are ill as some persistent viral infections do not cause symptoms. An infected person can transmit (spread) blood-borne viruses from one person to another by various routes and over a prolonged time period.
The most prevalent BBVs are:
- human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)- a virus which causes accuired immunodeficiency virus (AIDS), a disease affecting the body’s immune system
- hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C; BBVs causing hepatitis, a disease affecting the liver.
As well as through blood, these viruses can also be found and transmitted through other body fluids, for example:
- vaginal secretions
- breast milk
Unless contaminated with blood, minimal risk of BBV infection is carried by: