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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2011 Sep;214(5):407-10. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2011.05.002. Epub 2011 Jun 12.

Lack of risk-awareness and reporting behavior towards HIV infection through needlestick injury among European medical students.

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Section of Infectious Diseases, Division of Pulmonology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Austria.


Medical students are at risk for occupational needlestick injuries (NSIs) which can result in substantial health consequences and psychological stress. Therefore, an open online survey among final year medical students from Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom (UK) was conducted. The aim of the study was to evaluate risk-awareness and reporting behavior regarding needlestick injury (NSI), post-exposure prophylaxis, and level of education regarding the transmission of HIV through NSIs. Of 674 medical students, 226 (34%) reported at least one NSI during medical school. Respondents from Austria and Germany experienced a significantly higher number of NSIs in comparison to respondents from the UK. Seventy-six respondents (34%) did not report their most recent injury to an employee health office. Almost one third were not familiar with reporting procedures in case of a NSI and 45% of the study population feared that reporting an injury might have an adverse effect on their study success. 176 respondents (78%) who had suffered a NSI were not aware of the patient's HIV status. Education regarding NSIs and HIV transmission reduced the actual risk of experiencing a NSI significantly. These data indicate that medical students are at high risk of suffering NSIs during medical school. The rate of nonreporting of such injuries to an employee health service is alarmingly high. Improved medical curricula including precise recommendations may contribute to a more efficient prevention of occupational HIV infection in medical students.

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