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"Needlestick" is a slang term for a puncture wound made by a contaminated hypodermic needle, especially one that may convey HIV infection to health workers such as nurses or physicians. Although this is a rare mode of transmission of HIV or other serious infection, the risk is real: about three or four out of every thousand episodes of needlestick in Europe and North America have led to confirmed HIV infection. The risk is reduced by education, which must begin with junior staff when they are first in contact with patients, and with rigorous attention to sterile procedures, including universal precautions.

John M. Last

(see also: Communicable Disease Control; HIV/AIDS; Universal Precautions )

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