(Reducing the risk of nosocomial HIV infection in British health workers working overseas: role of post-exposure prophylaxis)
In an Education and Debate paper in this week's BMJ Dr Charles Gilks, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and David Wilkinson from the Medical Research Council in South Africa, examine the issue of the risk of occupational HIV infection from patient to health worker in the developing world.
The authors note that the prevalence of HIV infection among patients that are cared for is very high in some poorer countries and that such regions tend to lack the resources to implement adequate precautions to prevent transmission as well has having a lack of equipment and facilities. They also observe that health professionals working in these areas are often relatively inexperienced (for example medical students undertaking their elective) and therefore they are more likely to inadvertently expose themselves to blood and other body fluids.
With such effective post-exposure prophylaxis available, if an in-country employer is not able to afford the cost and storage of such drugs then should health workers be given a personal supply before travel? Gilks and Wilkinson conclude that there is a need for realistic, usable guidelines for both for those working overseas in medical environments and for their employers.
Dr Charles Gilks, Senior Lecturer, Division of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool email@example.com