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April 3, 1991


JAMA. 1991;265(13):1749-1755. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460130141044

To the Editor:  The September 1990 issue of Pulse dealt with risks of HIV exposure and emphasized increasing concern over occupational infection. The editorial repeated the often quoted message, "it is becoming clear that the risk of occupational HIV exposure may be significant... among students, residents, and other health care personnel."1 This is not true. Occupational HIV infections are rare and insignificant relative to the many other dangers found in the medical field.Unfortunately, a few cases of HIV transmission are so often repeated that a serious problem appears to exist. Certainly this is a real tragedy for the few health care workers who have become infected, but the risk to a health care worker is no greater than being killed by a parking lot mugger or in an ambulance-auto collision. Here are some facts:

  1. As of June 1989, the CDC recognized 25 health care workers worldwide who