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Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2000 Jun;69(3):265-70.

Exposure to human immunodeficiency virus among healthcare workers in South Africa.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and MRC/UN Pregnancy Hypertension Research Unit, University of Natal Medical School, Durban, South Africa.


There have been no reports in the literature on occupational hazards of HIV in developing countries. The aim of this study was to evaluate occupational exposure to HIV in healthcare workers in Durban, South Africa. Individuals with occupational exposure to HIV were interviewed. Thirteen percent of the staff reported injuries with HIV positive patients. Registrars in training were the highest risk group (60%). Of the injuries, 94% were percutaneous and 65% occurred during emergency surgery. The commonest place of injury was the operating theater (46%) and the commonest procedure associated with accidental exposure was cesarean section (57%). Fifty-one percent were not wearing eye protection during procedures and although 83% initiated post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), 48% discontinued treatment due to side effects of the drugs. Occupational exposure to HIV is common in the developing world. Rectifiable factors identified in this study that contributes to the milieu of occupational acquisition of HIV include less than proper adherence to universal precaution; inadequate documentation procedures and failure of a large percentage of respondents to complete post-exposure prophylaxis.

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