- LONDON (Reuters) - Most
doctors know the risks they run of exposure to HIV but many are unaware
that they can protect themselves by taking a course of drugs immediately
after exposure, according to a survey published on Thursday.
- The postal survey carried out by researchers in Australia
said two-thirds of the junior hospital doctors at two top London teaching
hospitals were ignorant that prophylactic drug treatment could cut the
risk of infection after exposure.
- "Virtually all of them had heard of PEP (post
prophylaxis), but one in five was unaware that it could reduce the risk
of infection," said the survey in the Sexually Transmitted Infections
- It said only eight percent of 350 doctors surveyed at
St. Thomas's and Guy's hospitals could name the three drugs recommended
for prophylactic use -- zidovudine, lamivudine and indinavir.
- Guidelines issued by Britain's department of health
taking a cocktail of the three drugs for a month starting within one hour
of exposure to infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
- Yet four out of 10 of the doctors surveyed by researchers
from the Sydney Sexual Health Centre could not name any of the drugs and
one-third did not know they needed to be taken within an hour of
- It said three-quarters of the doctors had been exposed
to HIV at some stage in their careers, but there was still a very low level
of usage of simple protective equipment such as gloves.
- "We feel that it is of great importance to improve
the level of knowledge about occupational exposure to HIV among junior
hospital doctors," the survey said.
- "This should include education on how to prevent
exposure, as well as information on first aid, who to contact and the
with which advice on PEP needs to be sought."
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