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Am J Hosp Pharm. 1989 Dec;46(12 Suppl 3):S4-7.

Infection of the health-care worker by HIV and other blood-borne viruses: risks, protection, and education.

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  • 1San Francisco General Hospital, CA 94110.


Transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other blood-borne viruses in hospitals is discussed, and the infection control system and worker protection and education plan at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) are described. The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic has led to increased concern about occupationally acquired infections in health-care workers. As the number of HIV-infected persons increases, so does the risk of infection. Occupationally acquired HIV infection of health-care workers occurs principally in nurses, phlebotomists, and laboratory technicians through accidental subcutaneous injection of contaminated blood; splashing of blood onto open skin lesions, the eyes, and mucous membranes represents another route of exposure. The risk of infection from a single needle-stick exposure to HIV-infected blood is about 0.4%. Other blood-borne viruses to which employees are vulnerable include hepatitis B virus and human T-cell lymphotropic viruses, which may cause leukemia and lymphoma. SFGH has a comprehensive infection control system. Specimen containers are enclosed in transparent secondary containers, the worker is encouraged to wear protective clothing when necessary, and specific needle-stick precautions are promoted. There is also a health-care worker protection and education plan. The employee health services department provides immunizations, keeps records on accidental exposures, and operates a hot line. The education committee disseminates educational materials and arranges lectures. Infection control and education provide simple but effective measures for protecting hospital employees against HIV and other occupationally acquired infections.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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