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Occupational Infection with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): Risks and Risk Reduction

Charles E. Becker, MD; James E. Cone, MD, MPH; and Julie Gerberding, MD
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Requests for Reprints: Charles E. Becker, MD, Building 30, 5th Floor, San Francisco General Hospital, 1001 Potrero Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94110.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Becker, Cone and Gerberding: Building 30, Fifth Floor, San Francisco General Medical Center, San Francisco, CA 94110.

©1989 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1989;110(8):653-656. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-110-8-653
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As the epidemic of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) expands, the prevalence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in health care environments will increase and health care workers in many locations are likely to be at increased risk for exposure. The Fifth Annual Advances in Occupational Cancer Conference, held in December 1988 in San Francisco, addressed occupational HIV infection. Symposium participants concluded that the risk of HIV infection for health care workers is low but not zero. Implementation of universal blood and body fluid precautions was agreed to as an appropriate method of preventing exposure to HIV, especially for preventing needlestick accidents. Current standards for hospital waste disposal were judged to be adequate to prevent transmission of HIV, and confidential testing for HIV antibody in health care workers with follow-up counseling was recommended where indicated. It was also agreed that the risk of occupational exposure to HIV does not free health care workers from the responsibility to provide care to infected persons.


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