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HOW AT RISK AM I ?
Jan 16, 2001

Dear Judith, I am a registered nurse working in an acute medical ward I regularly come in contact with TB, Meningitis, severe diarrhea and vomiting just to name a few. although i am strict with hand washing etc this doesn't necessarily protect me from airborne viruses...how at risk am I? occupational health are informed of my status and my last T-cell count was 5....any suggestions would be greatly appreciated regards

Response from Dr. Feinberg

There is no way I can give you a quantitative risk estimate, but with only 5 T cells you are certainly at risk from contagious as well as opportunistic diseases. I hope you are able to avail yourself of anti-HIV therapy to improve your immune status, and at a minimum I hope you are able to take cotrimoxazole to prevent PCP and toxoplasmosis, that you are tested annually for PPD status and have a chest X-ray, and that you receive annual vaccination against influenza. The safest thing for you to do is to practise nursing in a less risky environment, such as a chronic care facility, rather than in the acute care setting where you may be more likely to come into contact with illnesses that are highly contagious. Good luck!


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