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April 10, 1991

The Risk of Contracting HIV Infection in the Course of Health Care

JAMA. 1991;265(14):1872-1873. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460140100035

THE POTENTIAL risk of health professionals infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmitting that infection to patients in the course of their health care is now receiving widespread attention. This is a matter attracting public concern and needs the best of science-based judgments so that this possibility can be addressed fully and thoughtfully. The purpose of this statement is to address these concerns.

Reasonable evidence indicates that three individuals have been infected in the course of their care by one HIV-infected dentist.1 Investigation by the Centers for Disease Control has indicated that infection control measures, such as proper sterilization of instruments and routine glove changing between patients, were not meticulously observed in this dental practice. To date, the infection of these dental patients remains a tragic but isolated incident.

Although at first blush the testing of health professionals for HIV infection and removal of those who test positive