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April 11, 1980

Acupuncture and Possible Hepatitis B Infection

Author Affiliations

National Cancer Institute
Peter Bent Brigham Hospital Boston

JAMA. 1980;243(14):1423. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300400013015

To the Editor.—  During a recent three-month stay in China under a research program sponsored by the US National Academy of Sciences, we noted considerable diversity in methods of disinfection of soiled acupuncture needles. Despite increased popularity of the treatment in the United States, little attention has been given to the adequacy of disinfection of acupuncture needles by physicians and other practitioners.In hospitals and urban clinics in China, contaminated acupuncture needles are usually disinfected in the same manner as other needles and surgical instruments. However, barefoot doctors in several rural areas reported that they cleanse acupuncture needles solely by soaking or wiping with alcohol. The procedure does not meet generally recommended standards for protection against transmission of hepatitis B infection.1 Chinese scientists are aware of the problem and recognize that hepatitis is prevalent in China. Transmission of the disease via acupuncture needles can be studied through assays for