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Public Health Rep. 1990 Sep-Oct;105(5):496-504.

AIDS-related knowledge, attitudes, and precautionary behaviors among emergency medical professionals.

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  • 1Special Office on AIDS Prevention, Michigan Department of Public Health.


AIDS-related knowledge, attitudes, and precautionary behaviors were assessed among a random sample of Michigan-licensed emergency medical service (EMS) professionals between June and August 1988. Of 2,000 mailed questionnaires, 1,020 were returned (51 percent response), and 997 of the returned questionnaires were used in the final analysis. Survey results indicated that most respondents were able to correctly identify the transmission routes of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but many respondents had misconceptions about nonviable routes, the incidence of HIV infection among health care workers, and some aspects of the natural history of HIV. More than half of the respondents (56.6 percent) believed that their chances of becoming infected with HIV were "somewhat high" or "very high," although the number of documented HIV seroconversions due to occupational HIV exposures in health care settings is low. Although only six respondents (0.6 percent) reported that they had refused treatment to patients known or suspected to be infected with HIV, 25 percent felt that EMS professionals should be allowed to refuse treatment under such circumstances. Potential exposures to HIV were assessed through respondents' reports of three activities in the 6 months prior to the survey. For each activity, use of universal precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control was also assessed. In general, few respondents reported the consistent use of precautions. While the majority of those attempting resuscitations (86.9 percent) reported that they always use a protective device, only 36.7 percent of those treating bleeding patients reported that they always wear gloves, and only 21.9 percent of those using needles reported that they do not recap them after use.

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