Only a single health care worker was confirmed to have acquired HIV on the job between 2000 and 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC published statistics in the January 9 edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report about possible and confirmed cases of HIV acquisition among health care workers between 1985 and 2013.

A case is categorized as a possible occupational acquisition of the virus when the health care worker has contracted HIV and may have done so through work duties, but documentation to prove the workplace acquisition is lacking.

Between 1985 and 2013 there were 58 confirmed and 150 possible cases of occupational acquisition of the virus among health care workers. There have been only three confirmed cases since 1995, including one in 1998 and two in 1999. The last case, in 2008, involved a laboratory technician who was punctured by a needle while working with a live HIV culture. The bulk of the acquisitions took place between 1986 and 1991.

The CDC acknowledges that the lack of confirmed cases in recent years may be the result of underreporting. Otherwise, the apparent success in preventing workplace acquisition of the virus may be the result of treating people with HIV earlier and reducing their infectiousness, as well as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) protocol to prevent HIV acquisition after a potential exposure, and improved technologies and training to prevent injuries with sharp materials and other exposures.

Nurses make up the largest proportion of health care workers who are confirmed to have acquired HIV on the job, at 41.4 percent (24 people), followed by clinical laboratory technicians at 27.6 percent (16 people), nonsurgical physicians at 10.3 percent (6 people),  and nonclinical laboratory technicians at 6.9 percent (4 people). Housekeepers or maintenance workers and surgical technicians each accounted for 3.4 percent (2 people in each group). Embalmers or morgue technicians, hospice caregivers or attendants, respiratory therapists and dialysis technicians each accounted for 1.7 percent (1 person in each group).

To read the CDC report, click here.