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E. Can Your Doctor Infect You With HIV?

Narrator: This is Science Today. Can your doctor or dentist give you HIV while treating you? Not very likely, says public health expert Peter Lurie of the University of California, San Francisco. Lurie says that in spite of a well-publicized case, the likelihood of doctor to patient transmission is extremely small. The main reason is that compared to most infectious diseases, HIV just isn't that easy to transmit during medical procedures.

Lurie: When it comes to measles or tuberculosis, the infectiousness of those diseases far exceeds that of HIV. And so it's very difficult to transmit HIV from a doctor to a patient. In fact there are very few instances of that having occurred.

Narrator: Lurie says it's far more likely that a patient can infect a health care worker than the other way around. There are at least 60 documented cases of health care workers being infected on the job.

Lurie: So in fact this whole issue is much more legitimately an issue of occupational protection of the health care worker than it is of occupational transmission from the health care worker to the patient.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.