Essay on The Outbreak of AIDS in the United States

1355 Words 6 Pages
The 1980s and early 1990s were a controversial time in U.S. history. The most notable occurrence of dispute comes from the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/ Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) epidemic. There were numerous theories regarding how the sickness spread, but a well-known cause of this epidemic was a result of poor medical waste technology. In the 1980s, most medical waste management was regulated by each state. The most common disposal method of medical needles at the time was through the use of red, plastic bags marked ‘Infectious.’ As the epidemic grew, lab technicians treating infected individuals realized these bags were not useful in the prevention of the disease because the needle could break through the …show more content…
As unorthodox as it seems, the spread of AIDS was common in hospitals. Because of improper disposal procedures and technology, anyone who worked in a hospital setting was exposed to HIV in some way. According to Harold Faber of The New York Times, infectious waste was described as, “used hypodermic needles, discarded serums and vaccines, waste from renal dialysis, pathological waste of human tissues and animal parts, laboratory waste exposed to pathogenic organisms and surgical and obstetrical waste from patients in hospital isolation wards.” In the 1980’s, medical waste was treated as normal trash. Whoever removed the trash at the end of the day was subject to being pricked with an AIDS- contagious needle. Medical waste was placed into a red, plastic trash bag marked ‘Infectious.’ Needle stick injuries were common among housekeeping personnel and laboratory technicians because of this. Many people did not know they came into contact with an AIDS contaminated syringe because of the lack of differentiation between needles that injected a vaccine into a healthy person versus ones used to draw blood from a highly infectious individual. Not only can one contract AIDS from this type of disposal, but other diseases could be spread as well.
“Major concerns in the 1980’s are the transmission of hepatitis B, non-A non-B hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Despite the potential the gravity of the

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