Risk of human immunodeficiency virus in surgeons, anesthesiologists, and medical students

Anesth Analg. 1992 Jul;75(1):118-24. doi: 10.1213/00000539-199207000-00023.


We postulated that three factors determined the occupational risk of infection from the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) for surgeons, anesthesiologists, and medical students: first, the risk of needlestick exposure per year (range for surgeons 3.8-6.2, weighted average 4.2; range for anesthesiologists 0.86-2.5, weighted average 1.3; range for third-year medical students 0-5, best estimate 5); second, the risk of seroconversion from a needlestick exposure (0.42%-0.50%); and third, prevalence of HIV in the population served (0.32%-23.6%, depending on geographic location). Thus, the calculated range for occupational risk of HIV infection for a surgeon over a 30-yr period (assuming no change in HIV prevalence or benefit from protective measures) was 0.17%-13.9%; for an anesthesiologist, 0.05%-4.50%. The corresponding range of occupational risk for a medical student during the third year was 0.007%-0.59%. The range of risk is large because the variation in prevalence of HIV infection from one area to another is great. The authors validated the methodology first by using an equation, with estimates from the literature for factors in the equation, to calculate the risk of infection for hepatitis B and then by comparing the results with known rates of infection in the prevaccine era. Calculated occupational risk of hepatitis B infection for anesthesiologists was in the lower range of actual prevalence of infection (calculated range 2.32%-20.6%; known range 6%-26%). Calculated risk versus prevalence for surgeons was fairly close (7.31%-53.4% versus 24.4%).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiology*
  • General Surgery*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • HIV Seropositivity*
  • Hepatitis B / immunology
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control
  • Hepatitis B / transmission
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Probability
  • Risk Factors
  • Students, Medical*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Viral Hepatitis Vaccines


  • Hepatitis B Vaccines
  • Viral Hepatitis Vaccines