During 1993, we collected data on knowledge of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission, availability of equipment, protective practices and the occurrence of prick and splash incidents in nine hospitals in the Mwanza Region in the north-west of the United Republic of Tanzania. Such incidents were common, with the average health worker being pricked five times and being splashed nine times per year. The annual occupational risk of HIV transmission was estimated at 0.27% for health workers. Among surgeons, the risk was 0.7% (i.e. more than twice as high) if no special protective measures were taken. Health workers' knowledge and personal protective practices must therefore be improved and the supply of protective equipment supported. Reduction of occupational risk of HIV infection among health workers should be an integral part of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) control strategies
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