HIV Seropositivity in a Burn Center's Population

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HIV infection in a patient with burn injuries complicates the care of both the patient and the treating burn team. In the patient, HIV slows wound healing and increases the complications seen with burns. For the treating team, HIV is a hazard that infects the large volume of bodily fluids to which the burn team is potentially exposed. At Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, a team of plastic surgeons, infectious disease specialists, medical internists, psychiatrists, social workers, and nurses was established for the care of patients with burn injuries who have HIV. To ascertain the baseline need for this specialized care, we interviewed 103 consecutive patients admitted to the Bothin Burn Center. Those found to be positive by history (3 of 103) were excluded from HIV testing. Of the remaining 100 consecutive patients, all consented to HIV testing. None of these patients, even those with known risk factors, was found to have undiagnosed HIV positivity. We conclude the occult incidence in the population tested is lower than expected, and continued testing is warranted. (J Burn Care Rehabil 1998;19:138–41)

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