A chemical disinfectant used on some medical and dental devices can fail to kill the AIDS virus, posing a potential risk of infecting patients, a study suggests.
Researchers found that in the laboratory the disinfectant did not kill the AIDS virus in blood lodged in lubricants commonly used in dental equipment and in medical devices called endoscopes, which are inserted into the body to allow an interior view.
None of the devices has ever been shown to be the cause of HIV transmission from patient to patient, said researcher David Lewis, a microbiologist at the University of Georgia in Athens.
In the study, published by Lewis and another researcher in the September issue of the journal Nature Medicine, the AIDS virus survived after the contaminated lubricants were soaked for two hours in a powerful germ-killer called glutaraldehyde.
Lewis said the study emphasizes the need to sterilize dental equipment at extremely high temperatures, as recommended by the federal government and the American Dental Assn.