Science / Medicine : Health Workers and AIDS

From Times staff and wire reports

Fewer than half of 1% of health care workers mistakenly exposed to AIDS-tainted blood through cuts, needle wounds or other accidents become infected with the lethal virus, a new survey shows.

The review, conducted at 335 hospitals across the United States, concludes that "the risk of HIV infection after exposure to the blood of a patient infected with HIV is low."

The researchers followed 1,201 nurses and other hospital workers who came into contact with the blood of people infected with HIV, the AIDS virus. A report on the work, directed by Ruthanne Marcus of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Results of AIDS testing were available for 963 of the health care workers, and four of them, or 0.42%, were infected as a result of needle punctures. Two of the four cases occurred when people were accidentally stuck with needles by fellow workers during emergency resuscitation procedures.

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