Health Care Workers ‘Still Vulnerable’ to Blood Infections, Including HIV, Opinion Piece Says
Dr. Hacib Aoun, who contracted HIV from an accidental blood exposure while working as a medical resident and published an account of his experience in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1989, "helped capture the terror and the arbitrariness of the early years of the AIDS epidemic," Dr. Barron Lerner, a medical historian and internist at Columbia University, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. Aoun's account now "reads like ancient history, but it also remains surprisingly relevant," Lerner says. Although hospitals today "take infection control much more seriously," health care workers are "still vulnerable to new infections," as the recent global outbreak of sudden acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, demonstrated, according to Lerner. "[W]hile most possible blood exposures cause no problem, it is estimated that over 500,000 occur annually," Lerner concludes (Lerner, New York Times, 8/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.