Translational Biomedicine

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HIV in Intensive Care Unit: Concerns and Constraints of Intensivists

Sandeep Kumar Kar, Bipasa Chakraborty, Sudipta Ghosh, Manash Sarkar and Raja Ray

The increasing prevalence of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection in recent times has led to increasing exposure, and the possibility of nosocomial transmission of HIV. The present day scenario highlights the need for intensivists to enforce strict adherence to infection control protocol at site when working in ICU. Thus strict adherence to Standard precautions when handling body fluids especially hand washing, proper management of accidental needle-stick injury and scientific disposal of biomedical waste along with current PEP guidelines are of paramount importance. In the HAART era, though hospitalisation of HIV infected patients has significantly decreased, but the rate of ICU admissions is still high. HIV patients may be admitted to ICU for many reasons, of which acute respiratory failure as a result of opportunistic infections accounts for approximately 25-50%. Today, HIV patients are being admitted to the ICU for medical and surgical causes unrelated to their HIV infection, such as malignancies, pacemaker implant, liver and renal diseases, minimal invasive surgeries like laparoscopic ones, orthopaedic surgeries for fractures and implants, brain surgery for road traffic accident injury are only a few. The number of persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) has increased and critical care specialists may be more likely to admit more HIV patients to the ICU and pursue aggressive life-support measures. But for resource constrained countries, where population and ICU bed ratio are abysmally low, decisions for admission in ICU by critical care specialists are often made in the absence of explicit policies and guidelines. Global and national commitments are required, providing proper HIV treatment and prophylaxis without discrimination and maintaining accountability and code of ethics.