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Surveillance of Health Care Personnel With HIV/AIDS

As of December 2002

December 2003

Of the adults reported with AIDS in the United States through December 31, 2002, 24,844 had a history of employment in healthcare. These cases represented 5.1% of the 486,826 AIDS cases reported to CDC for whom occupational information was known (information on employment was missing for 362,954 reported AIDS cases).

The type of job is known for 23,212 (93%) of the 24,844 reported healthcare personnel with AIDS. (See the box below.) The "other" category is comprised of maintenance workers, administrative staff, and other nonmedical staff. Overall, 73% of the healthcare personnel with AIDS, including 1,407 nonsurgical physicians, 3,962 nurses, 385 dental workers, 328 paramedics, and 92 surgeons, are reported to have died.

Adults reported with AIDS and a history of employment in healthcare, where job is known, by occupation, as of December 2002.
Occupation Number
Nurses 5,378
Health aides 5,638
Technicians 3,182
Physicians 1,792
Therapists 1,082
Dental workers 492
Paramedics 476
Surgeons 122
Other 5,050
Total 23,212

Fifty-seven healthcare personnel in the United States have been documented as having seroconverted to HIV following occupational exposures. (See box below for their occupations.) Twenty-six have developed AIDS. The exposures resulting in infection were as follows: 48 had percutaneous (puncture/cut injury) exposure; 5, mucocutaneous (mucous membrane and/or skin) exposure; 2, both percutaneous and mucocutaneous exposure; and 2, an unknown route of exposure. Forty-nine healthcare personnel were exposed to HIV-infected blood; 3, to concentrated virus in a laboratory; 1, to visibly bloody fluid, and 4, to an unspecified fluid.

In addition, 139 other cases of HIV infection or AIDS have occurred among healthcare personnel who have not reported other risk factors for HIV infection and who report a history of occupational exposure to blood, body fluids, or HIV-infected laboratory material, but for whom seroconversion after exposure was not documented. The number of these workers who acquired their infection through occupational exposures is unknown.

No new documented cases of occupationally acquired HIV/AIDS have been reported since December 2001. One new case of possible occupational transmission has been reported. The number of possible cases may decrease if individuals are reclassified when a nonoccupational risk is identified or may increase if new cases are reported.

Healthcare personnel with documented and possible occupationally acquired AIDS/HIV infection, by occupation, as of December 2002.
Occupation Documented Possible
Nurse 24 35
Laboratory worker, clinical 16 17
Physician, nonsurgical 6 12
Laboratory technician, nonclinical 3 -
Housekeeper/maintenance worker 2 13
Technician, surgical 2 2
Embalmer/morgue technician 1 2
Health aide/attendant 1 15
Respiratory therapist 1 2
Technician, dialysis 1 3
Dental worker, including dentist - 6
Emergency medical technician/paramedic - 12
Physician, surgical - 6
Other technician/therapist - 9
Other healthcare occupation - 5
Total 57 139

1Healthcare personnel are defined as those persons, including students and trainees, who have worked in a healthcare, clinical, or HIV laboratory setting at any time since 1978. See MMWR 1992;41:823-5.

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This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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