More than 60 patients are being asked to attend for HIV screening after a healthcare worker at Mayo General Hospital was diagnosed with HIV.
GPs of the affected patients are being contacted today to make arrangements for their patients to be tested and letters will also be sent directly to those affected.
Further details on the healthcare worker involved are not being released but the HSE has said the decision to invite patients for screening was taken as a precaution.
According to a statement issued by HSE West, “the risk to patients is extremely low, however screening is good practice and is being undertaken as a precautionary measure”.
HSE West said it anticipates that “the majority of patients will be screened by their own GP”.
International research suggests the risk of HIV transmission in the healthcare setting is low. Studies carried out in the UK over the last 20 years have never identified a case of HIV transmission from a healthcare worker.
Although HIV screening of new healthcare workers is mandatory in the UK, this measure was not recommended in the 2005 Prevention of Transmission of Blood-Borne Diseases in a Healthcare Setting report.
“As there is still as yet no vaccine available to protect against HIV infection, the policy for protecting healthcare workers and patients from HIV continues to rely on good general infection control procedures,” the report states.
“Mandatory screening for HIV is not recommended on the basis of the low levels of risk involved,” it says.