Infection control and human immunodeficiency virus: perceptions of risk among nurses and hospital domestic workers Academic Article uri icon


  • In December 1993 the first case of patient-to-patient transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), at a doctor's surgery in New South Wales, was documented. In an environment of heightened anxiety about HIV transmission and the adequacy of infection-control measures taken by health providers, it is important to explore perceptions of occupational risk of exposure to infection among hospital workers, reasons why hospital domestic workers sometimes depart from standard procedure in infection control, and how they regard the patients who have infectious diseases. In this study, at an infectious diseases hospital where there is an acute awareness of such issues, nurses had accurate knowledge about control of infection, including HIV, but had limited trust of that knowledge. They gave rationales for why they sometimes departed from infection-control procedures. They had low levels of fear of homosexuals and of acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The hospital domestic workers had lower levels of accurate knowledge about infection control, including HIV, and less trust of that knowledge and of protection by health provider from occupational exposure to infection. They had low levels of fear of homosexuals and HIV. Both groups sought regular, small-group, interactive education programs on infection control and HIV to allow them to discuss their concerns. Participatory education of workers should include eliciting concerns of participants, and should discuss concerns regarding administrators' and educators' interests in their safety and wellbeing.

publication date

  • January 1, 1995