Three female hospital workers, none of whom belong to any known risk groups for AIDS, have tested positive for the virus after each came in contact with the blood of an infected person, according to a report to be published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control.
The women, from separate parts of the country, are among the first health care workers known to have contracted the AIDS virus after a single exposure to blood without having been accidentally pricked by a needle.
Two of the women were not wearing protective gloves at the time, which the CDC recommends for all health care workers who come in contact with blood. The third was wearing gloves but was splattered with blood in an accident.
A CDC official familiar with the report expressed concern that many health care workers have been exposed to the AIDS virus without knowing it. Exposure to the HIV virus does not necessarily mean that someone will get the disease. However, experts now estimate that more than half of those exposed will develop AIDS symptoms.
There have been six previously reported cases of accidental transmission of the virus to people caring for AIDS patients, according to the CDC.