Health care workers exposed to blood and body fluids have a low but measurable risk of occupational infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This risk is related to the prevalence of HIV among patients, the frequency of exposure to infected blood, and the method of exposure. The magnitude of risk is thus difficult to assess for any given situation, although the overall risk following percutaneous exposure is approximately 0.3%. Risk can be reduced by paying close attention to infection control procedures and by minimizing risky procedures. Exposure management should include preexposure education and immediate postexposure care and counseling. Chemoprophylaxis is widely used despite doubts as to its effectiveness, and much research is clearly needed to develop more effective prophylaxis. For patients, the risk of nosocomial acquisition of HIV remains extremely low and can be minimized by strict adherence to proper infection control procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-211
Number of pages9
JournalAnnual review of medicine
StatePublished - 1995


  • Blood-borne pathogens
  • Health care workers
  • Infection control
  • OSHA
  • Occupational


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