To determine the rate of occupationally acquired HIV infection among health-care workers, M. Patricia Joyce, MD, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues examined data from 58 confirmed and 150 possible cases of occupationally acquired HIV infections between 1985 to 2013.
Since 1999, only one confirmed case of occupationally acquired HIV infection has been reported to the CDC (in 2008, a laboratory technician was punctured by a needle while working with a live HIV culture). Among the 58 confirmed cases, routes of exposure resulting in HIV infection included percutaneous puncture or cut (49 cases), mucocutaneous exposure (five cases), both percutaneous and mucocutaneous exposure (two cases), and unknown exposure (two cases).
The most important prevention strategies for clinicians are following precautions for preventing exposures to blood and bodily fluids, and appropriate post-exposure management when occupational exposures to HIV occur.
“Whereas the paucity of cases could be the result of underreporting, it might indicate the effectiveness of more widespread and earlier treatment to reduce patient viral loads, combined with prevention strategies such as postexposure management and prophylaxis as well as improved technologies and training to reduce sharps injuries and other exposures,” concluded the authors.