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HIV threat to correctional officers
May 5, 1998

I'm cosidering a position as a correctional officer in the state of Massachuessets, what is the chance of being infected from an HIV positive inmate?

Response from Ms. Breuer

To my knowledge, there are no documented cases of occupational HIV infections among U.S. correctional officers. Despite the widespread public concern about biting, in fact the biter would have to break the other person's skin and have blood in his/her own mouth even to risk infection from that blood's contact with the biting victim's bloodstream. (The biter, who puts a mucous membrane in contact with someone else's blood, takes the far greater risk in a biting scenario.) Other unwelcome forms of contact in a correctional facility could include splashing with urine or feces or vomit. While these are not pleasant, they are not modes of transmission for HIV.

I assume that your training would include appropriate handling of human blood for first aid purposes, and that your employer would teach you universal precautions to avoid the far more likely infections, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, as well as HIV. Universal precautions are highly effective, and are your best defense against any bloodborne disease.

Nancy Breuer



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