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Risk of Nosocomial Infection with Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Virus Type III/Lymphadenopathy-Associated Virus in a Large Cohort of Intensively Exposed Health Care Workers

DAVID K. HENDERSON, M.D.; ALFRED J. SAAH, M.D., M.P.H.; BARBARA J. ZAK, B.S.N.; RICHARD A. KASLOW, M.D., M.P.H.; H. CLIFFORD LANE, M.D.; THOMAS FOLKS, Ph.D.; WILLIAM C. BLACKWELDER, Ph.D.; JAMES SCHMITT, M.D.; DEBORAH J. LaCAMERA, B.S.N.; HENRY MASUR, M.D.; and ANTHONY S. FAUCI, M.D.
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Presented in part on May 1985 at the Annual Meeting of the American Federation for Clinical Research/American Society for Clinical Investigation/Association of American Physicians, Washington, D.C.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to David K. Henderson, M.D.; Hospital Epidemiology Service, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Building 10, Room 11N223, 9000 Rockville Pike; Bethesda, MD 20892.


Bethesda, Maryland


Ann Intern Med. 1986;104(5):644-647. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-104-5-644
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To assess the risk of nosocomial transmission of human T-cell lymphotropic virus type III/lymphadenopathy-associated virus (HTLV-III/LAV), we prospectively evaluated a cohort of 531 health care workers. One hundred fifty of these employees reported percutaneous or mucous membrane exposures to blood or body fluids from a patient with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) during the treatment of 238 such patients since 1981. None of these 150 employees had serologic evidence of HTLV-III/LAV infection on follow-up from 6 to 46 months after exposure. Of the 150, 46 were studied immunologically and 29 had lymphocytes cultured for HTLV-III/LAV. Results of all studies were normal. Of the 531 employees, 3 (0.56%) had serologic evidence of HTLV-III/LAV infection. All were seropositive at the time of study entry; none reported adverse nosocomial exposures. All acknowledged membership in one or more established risk groups for AIDS. This study provides strong evidence that the risk of nosocomial transmission of HTLV-III/LAV is extremely low.

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