Since the initial description of a concentrated outbreak of pneumocystis carnii pneumonia in 1981, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) pandemic has accounted for nearly 25 million deaths worldwide. This review focuses on estimations of prevalence by geographic region and identification of high-risk populations within each region, outcome for trauma patients with HIV and AIDS and risk management for health care workers who sustain occupational exposures. Trauma surgeons are more likely to encounter patients infected with HIV in geographic areas where HIV prevalence is high or in areas where intravenous drug use, high-risk sexual behaviours and penetrating trauma are more common. Patients with HIV may be expected to have higher rates of infectious and respiratory complications if they have active AIDS and/or liver disease caused by one of the hepatitis viruses. Certain aspects of therapy may change in this group of patients. Clinicians should be aware that highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) might produce complications. Occupational exposure among healthcare workers is uncommon. Cases of infection in healthcare workers from needlesticks are rare. Certain precautions regarding body fluid and needlestick exposures have been widely adopted over the past decade. When percutaneous injury results in known exposure to HIV, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) should be used and can be expected to be effective in preventing infection in the large majority of cases. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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