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Medical Students Are Taking Risks With HIV During Elective Studies

(Medical students' risk of infection with blood borne viruses at home and abroad: questionnaire survey)

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(Provision of health advice for UK medical students planning to travel overseas for their elective study period: questionnaire survey)

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Two papers in this week's BMJ conclude that medical students are not being given adequate health advice and support when undertaking their elective studies in countries with a relatively high prevalence of blood borne viruses, such as HIV.

Medical students in the UK and in many other countries have an elective period as part of their training during which they are encouraged to pursue their clinical studies overseas, with many opting to go to developing countries.

In a study of 148 of such students, Claire Gamester and colleagues from Guy's, King's College and St Thomas's School of Medicine found that 42 per cent of those who visited areas with a relatively high prevalence of HIV were unaware of this, all of whom had visited areas other than sub-Saharan Africa. It would seem, say that authors, that these students and some of their advisers are unaware of the increasing prevalence of HIV infection in South East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Central America, the Caribbean and South America.

The authors conclude that medical schools should produce, regularly update and implement guidelines regarding protection from blood borne viruses during clinical studies, including electives. This view is supported in a paper by Peter Moss and Nick Beeching, also p
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Contact: Jill Shepherd
jshepherd@bma.org.uk
44-171-383-6529
BMJ-British Medical Journal
15-Jan-1999


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