Original Article

Surgery Today

, Volume 42, Issue 11, pp 1066-1070

First online:

The attitudes of British surgical trainees about the treatment of HIV-infected patients

  • Michelle Frances GriffinAffiliated withUniversity of Manchester
  • , Sandip HindochaAffiliated withUniversity of ManchesterDepartment of Plastic Surgery, Whiston General Hospital Email author 

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As the incidence of HIV increases, the occupational risk of human immuno deficiency virus (HIV) infection also increases, leading to heightened anxiety within surgical practice. This study assessed the attitudes of surgeons treating HIV-infected patients.


Seventy surgical trainees working in two district general hospitals were requested to complete a survey assessing their attitudes regarding the surgical management of HIV-infected patients.


A needle-stick injury was reported by 64% of the trainees. Fifty-four percent of trainees were concerned about acquiring HIV from patients when performing a surgical procedure. There was a significant difference between the number of trainees worried about treating a patient with HIV and the number of trainees wearing eye protection when performing invasive procedures (p < 0.002). Eighty-six percent of trainees were confident they could treat HIV patients safely, but only 63% were aware of the hospital protocol for needle-stick injuries.


There appears to be increasing concern among surgical trainees about carrying out surgical procedures on HIV-infected patients. Despite equipment being fully available, many trainees are not considering the full use of protective theatre garments to minimize the risk of HIV contamination. Further education and training is required to stress the importance of the increasing HIV prevalence and the need for safety during surgical practice.


HIV Surgical training AIDS British trainees