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'Sharpsafe' disposal bin for contaminated sharps, United Kingdom, 1996

‘Sharpsafe’ bins are now a familiar sight in hospitals. Needles and other equipment that have been used in medical treatment are thrown into this plastic bin. This helps to reduce the risk of infection to staff, patients and visitors from contaminated needles and waste. The use of these bins in hospitals received greater emphasis following the appearance of HIV in the 1980s. ‘Sharpsafe’ was launched in 1979.

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Glossary: container - medical waste

Any container designed for the collection and disposal of medical waste

Glossary: HIV

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that weakens vital cells in the immune system, and leads to AIDS. There are two strands: HIV-1, which leads to immunity suppression; and HIV-2, which is not as potent and is only common in West Africa. HIV is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids.