SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.6 issue3Leptospirosis as a cause of acute respiratory failure: clinical features and outcome in 35 critical care patientsHyperlipidaemia - a risk factor for femoral head osteonecrosis (Legg-Calvè-Perthes-Like disease) in children with AIDS: case report author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links


Brazilian Journal of Infectious Diseases

Print version ISSN 1413-8670On-line version ISSN 1678-4391

Braz J Infect Dis vol.6 no.3 Salvador June 2002 

The first case of AIDS due to occupational exposure in Brazil



Naila Janilde Seabra Santos; Ana Lúcia Carvalho Monteiro and Emily Anna Catapano Ruiz

Disease Surveillance Division of the São Paulo State STD/AIDS Program, Hospital Infection Control Service of the São Paulo AIDS/STD Referral Center, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Address to correspondence




The first case of AIDS due to occupational exposure in Brazil is described. The accident occurred in 1994 and the health care worker was classified as AIDS-positive with unidentified risk in 1997. The correct classification as occupational exposure occurred after an epidemiological investigation conducted in 1999.

Key Words: HIV/Aids; professional exposure; Brazil.



Brazil ranks among the countries with the highest numbers of AIDS case reports in the world. By the end of the year 2000, 203,353 cases and 100,494 deaths due to AIDS had been reported by the National System [1]. Although there are 99 documented or possible cases of occupational exposure to HIV in the world literature [2], no cases had been reported in Brazil up to the present date.

In July 1999, after coming across an article in the lay press [3], in which a case of HIV contamination resulting from occupational exposure was described, we carried out an epidemiological investigation and were able to confirm the assumption made in the report about the means of HIV transmission.

The health care worker (HCW) was a nurse aide at a private hospital in the city of São Paulo. The accident occurred on October 14, 1994 during a venopuncture on an individual with clinical and laboratorial diagnosis of Aids. The accident occurred while helping a colleague with the above-mentioned procedure and was caused by the venous catheter accidentally puncturing the professional's right forearm.

The result of an HIV test performed on 10/17/1994 was negative. At the time all other possible risk factors for HIV were ruled out. The sole sexual partner was also found negative for HIV.

Although three out of the five risk factors for occupational acquisition of AIDS could be identified in this case, the HCW did not receive any prophylactic medication because at the time there was no official recommendation in Brazil for its use in the case of occupational exposure. In November of the same year, the HCW developed fever and cervical ganglia, but no definite diagnosis was made. During the same period, the patient that was the source of contamination died, thus demonstrating the severity of the case at the time of the accident.

Another HIV test was performed on 12/29/1994, again with a negative result.

On 04/11/1995, a third test was performed and was positive for antibodies against HIV by ELISA. In order to confirm the laboratorial diagnosis, a Western Blot was performed on 04/27/96, with a positive result.

The HCW condition evolved to repeated hydroadenitis, and on 09/27/96 the case was defined as AIDS, presenting a CD4 count = 72/mm3, oral and esophageal candidiasis, important weight loss, anemia, persistent coughing and lymphoadenopathy.

The case of this HCW was reported on 08/10/1997, but not as occupational exposure. At that time the AIDS case database (SINAN- Brazilian Infectious Disease Reporting System) and reporting form did not include occupational exposure as an option, and the case was classified by the reporting service as unidentified risk.

The HCW was released from professional activities in June 1996 and recognized as an occupational accident by the Labor Ministry after a legal investigation. The HCW is currently well from a clinical point of view and is being followed up in a local health care service.

The investigation of the case was performed by the authors, professionals of the Disease Surveillance Division of the São Paulo State STD/AIDS Program in August 1999, by interviewing the HCW and examining the documents that prove all the data described above, making this case the first proven case of HIV contamination by occupational exposure in Brazil. After the investigation, the transmission category of the case was corrected to professional exposure in the AIDS case database.

This case emphasizes the importance of integrating all information from different databases and services rendered by different agencies. It also emphasizes the importance of adequately assisting and following all professional accidents with biological material and of establishing a disease surveillance system for these cases. As of January 2000, the São Paulo State STD/Aids Program established a surveillance system and standardized procedures for assisting and giving prophylactic medication to health professionals after occupational exposure. Professionals from all regions of the São Paulo State Health Department have been trained. A computerized program for reporting all cases of occupational exposure has been developed and implemented.



1. Ministério da Saúde. Boletim Epidemiológico Aids, Ano XIII,n3,36a-52a semanas epidemiológicas, Out-Dez 2000.         [ Links ]

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated U.S. public health service guidelines for the management of occupational exposures to HBV, HCV, and HIV and recommendations for postexposure prophylaxis. MMWR 2001;50(RR-11):1-54.         [ Links ]

3. Segatto C. Quando o Medo Veste Branco. Revista Época 1999 July 7; ano 2, edição 60:pp86-90.         [ Links ]



Address to correspondence
Dr. Naila Janilde Seabra Santos.
Centro de Referência e Tratamento DST/AIDS
Rua Santa Cruz, 81, sala 115
Zip Code: 04121-000, São Paulo, SP, Brazil
Phone/Fax: 55 11 55393445

Received on 20 March 2002
Revised 09 May 2002

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License