Seroconversion rate among health care workers exposed to HIV-contaminated body fluids: The University of Pittsburgh 13-year experience

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The studies enumerating the risk of HIV transmission to health care workers (HCWs) as 0.3% after percutaneous exposure to HIV-positive blood, and 0.09% after a mucous membrane exposure, are weakened by dated literature. Our study aims to demonstrate the seroconversion rate after exposure to HIV-contaminated body fluids in a major academic center in the United States.


A prospectively maintained database of reported occupational injuries occurring between 2002 and 2015 at an academic medical center was analyzed. Data collected included the type of injury, injured body part, type of fluid, contamination of sharps, involvement of resident physicians, use of postexposure prophylaxis, and patients’ HIV, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus status.


A total of 266 cases were included in the study. Most exposures were caused by percutaneous injuries (52.6%), followed by 43.2% mucocutaneous injuries. Of the injuries, 52.6% were to the hand and 33.5% to the face and neck. Blood exposure accounted for 64.3% of all cases. Of the patients, 21.1% received postexposure prophylaxis. None of the HCWs exposed to HIV-contaminated body fluids seroconverted (seroconversion rate, 0%).


HIV does not seem to be as easily transmitted by needlestick, laceration, or splash injuries as previously surmised. Further large-scale and multicenter studies are needed for a more accurate estimation of the risk of transmission of HIV in U.S. health care workers.

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