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September 11, 1995

Is Zidovudine a Prophylactic Treatment for Health Care Workers?

Author Affiliations

Paris, France

Arch Intern Med. 1995;155(16):1816. doi:10.1001/archinte.1995.00430160170018

Forseter et al1 describe a population of 113 health care workers exposed to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after needlestick injury. Sixty of them (53%) took zidovudine. Only 21 (35%) of the 60 health care workers completed the full 42-day course of therapy, and most of them (73%) suffered many side effects. No seroconversion was detected in this cohort of untreated and treated subjects. We want to mention that seroconversion can occur during zidovudine treatment given after HIV exposure; several cases of clinical failure have been reported. We previously described a nurse in whom seroconversion developed after a deep needlestick injury with a needle that had been contaminated by a patient with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.2 Preventive procedures were started immediately: the wound was bled and washed with bleach for 15 minutes, and oral zidovudine therapy (250 mg four times per day [1 g/d]) was initiated 90 minutes after the