An anonymous survey of elective surgery patients was performed to assess prevalence of antibody to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in a large urban hospital. Of 4087 patients evaluated, 18 (0.4%) were found to be infected with HIV as confirmed by a positive Western blot antibody test. Assessment of risk factors demonstrated that patients with a history of a blood transfusion did not differ in demographics or rate of infection from the population as a whole. Of the 18 HIV infected patients, 13 gave an admission history of one or more risk factors, including 10 with a history of a prior positive test. Only five, or 0.12% of the patients, provided no history of a risk factor or a history of transfusion only. The authors conclude that the prevalence of HIV infection among elective surgery patients is low, and that there would not be any substantial benefit from screening such patients for antibody against HIV.
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