Health Care Workers Face Increased Risk of Mortality From HIV, Other Bloodborne Diseases, Study Finds
November 20, 2008
A new CDC study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine has found that health care workers face an increased risk of dying from bloodborne diseases, such as HIV, and related illnesses compared with workers in other fields, Reuters reports. The study also found that male health care workers face a more than twofold risk of dying from HIV/AIDS-related causes. According to researchers Sara Luckhaupt and Geoffrey Calvert of CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, accidental needle sticks and other workplace accidents can put health care workers at an increased risk of exposure to bloodborne diseases. Luckhaupt notes that evidence over the past 20 to 25 years shows that health care workers have been more likely to die from bloodborne diseases than workers in other fields, Reuters reports.
Luckhaupt said that the researchers are unable to say how much the increased risk is because of occupational or non-occupational exposure but added that it is "important to look at both." The researchers wrote, "The greatest limitation to our study was that information was not available on possible confounding factors, such as sexual risk behaviors, history of blood transfusions, intravenous drug use and alcohol use." They added that previous studies indicate that most infections among health care workers are not contracted on the job and that occupational factors could be a stand-in for other risk factors. They suggest that "interventions to decrease the risk of bloodborne pathogens among health-care workers may need to be gender-specific" in order to better understand why male health care workers show an increased risk for bloodborne disease mortality (Harding, Reuters, 11/19).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.