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Needle Sticks, Sharps and Bloodborne Pathogen Exposures



Risk of Infection

Risk of HIV Infection
The average risk of HIV infection due to all types of reported percutaneous exposures to HIV-infected blood is 0.3%. A percutaneous exposure is defined as a needlestick or laceration/puncture with a sharp object. The risk appears to be greater than 0.3% for exposure to HIV (+) patients involving deep injury, visible blood on the device causing the injury or a device previously placed in the source patient’s vein or artery.

Risk of Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C Infection
The average risk of Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in susceptible persons after percutaneous exposure to HBV-infected blood is 6 – 30%. The risk of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection after percutaneous exposure to HCV-infected blood is 7.4% (95% CI 3.9%-12.5%).

Prophylaxis for Exposure to HIV (Revised Sept. 2013)
Prophylaxis is being offered to employees and students who have a percutaneous injury or contamination of mucous membranes or non-intact skin exposure to HIV during the performance of their duties. Prophylaxis in these circumstances is voluntary. The FDA has not approved anti-retroviral therapy for post-exposure use; therefore, use of these medications post-exposure for healthcare workers/students is considered investigational. The CDC says, “Because most occupational exposures to HIV do not result in infection transmission, potential toxicity must be carefully considered when prescribing post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)”.