Massachusetts Science Students Who Shared Needle at Low Risk for HIV Infection, Health Officials Say
Seventh-grade students at a New Bedford, Mass., junior high school who shared a needle to draw blood during a science experiment last year have a "minuscule" chance of contracting HIV or hepatitis as a result, according to infectious disease specialists, the Boston Herald reports. In May 2001, Keith Junior High School science teacher Kevin Cadieux had 24 of his students use a lancet, a "pen-shaped device with a ... thin, disposable needle," to draw blood for a microscope slide. The students did not change the needle between uses and instead wiped it with alcohol. Dr. Alfred DeMaria, chief of infectious diseases at the state Department of Public Health, said that while all blood should be treated as if it were contaminated, the risk to students was "minuscule, but not zero," and that the alcohol "likely would have killed either HIV or hepatitis C." DeMaria said that the risk was reduced "even further" because the needle was solid and not hollow. Cadieux, who retired last summer, was not subject to any disciplinary action, school officials said (Lasalandra, Boston Herald, 7/11).
Boston NPR affiliate WBUR also reported on the incident. The full segment is available in RealPlayer Audio online (Gotbaum, "NPR News," NPR, 7/11).