Six health workers get HIV
By LINDA SILMALIS, May 23, 2004
SIX health-care workers have acquired HIV after being injured with a
contaminated needle or other "sharps".
The national needle-stick injury figures are revealed in a NSW
parliamentary committee report into workplace deaths and injuries.
The committee recommended that NSW Health and WorkCover investigate
the cost of introducing retractable needles, which cost much more
than conventional needles.
The inquiry found health-care workers had a one in three chance of
acquiring hepatitis B from contaminated "sharps", one in 30 of
getting hepatitis C and one in 300 of HIV.
A Medical Industry Association of Australia (MIAA) submission claims
there are 12 recorded cases of HIV infection in a health-care
setting, including six health-care workers.
The MIAA claims the number of workers involved in needle-stick
injuries could be higher, with up to 60 per cent of cases never
The report detailed a 10-year study at one hospital which recorded
1836 injuries with a needle that had previously been used on a
Conducted by Associate Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, of the
University of NSW's Hospital Infection Epidemiology and Surveillance
Unit, the study found 66 per cent of the injuries were sustained by
nurses - with seven per cent involving hollow-bore needles that
exposed health-care workers to blood containing hepatitis B or C, or
In a submission to the inquiry, Professor McLaws said the most
effective means of reducing the daily threat of needle-stick injuries
was to use self-retracting needles.
The NSW Nurses' Association said nurses were often not aware when
they were treating patients with HIV or other diseases, and did not
take additional precautions.
The Sunday Telegraph