Blood on holds: health risk to climbers?

Posted by Alex Messenger on 06/08/2010
Is blood a risk on holds?

Is there are risk of blood-borne infections being transmitted to climbers? The UIAA Medical Commission attempts to answer this vital question in its latest advice paper.

“Sustaining cuts, abrasions or lacerations, typically on the fingertips in contact with holds, is a common occurrence in climbing,” say the medical experts in the document, the most recent recommendations document to be published on the UIAA website.

The medical experts warn that “the transmission risk of HBV (hepatitis B) is known to be high among athletes in contact or collision sports, injecting drug users, those who live or visit endemic regions, and those giving first aid without appropriate protection. The number of blood borne infections transmitted is postulated to increase among athletes.”

Among the recommendations provided by the Medical Commission is the proper handling of participants with active bleeding: “ (They) should be removed from the event as soon as this is practical. Bleeding must be controlled and the wound cleansed with soap and water or antiseptic. Climbing holds with blood stains need to be cleaned and brushed, if necessary with antiseptic or disinfectant. They need to dry out before re-use.”

Read Risk of transmission of blood borne infections in climbing

The UIAA Medical Commission is a global forum of doctors who meet regularly to update information on medical issues related to the mountains; the commission produces a range of advice sheets

Many of these advice sheets are also available in the medical section of the BMC website



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