Paris surgeon probably transmitted HIV to patient

Case could fuel debate on CDC guidelines

As this issue of Hospital Infection Control went to press, health officials in Paris reported a "highly probable" case of HIV transmission from an infected surgeon to a patient.

The French Ministry of Health and Social Security reported that the occupationally infected surgeon apparently transmitted HIV to one of approximately 1,000 of his patients that have been tested. The case could boost calls in the United States for the CDC to reconsider its guidelines. But initial data also may support the CDC’s assessment that the risk of HIV transmission from an infected provider to a patient is small and current guidelines are appropriate.

Following the discovery in 1995 that a surgeon at the Saint Germain-en-Laye Hospital had acquired HIV infection occupationally in 1983, French health officials offered testing to his patients. Of some 1,000 patients tested, one was positive with an HIV strain that is "close" to the surgeon’s, officials reported.

Health officials were planning to conduct an epidemiologic investigation to assess whether or not additional transmission had occurred, and whether sequencing of viruses from the patient and surgeon could be performed. While the investigation has not been validated by international scientific review, the health ministry reported that the strains of the two viruses are close to each other.