Four health-care workers, none known to be in high-risk categories, have developed Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta reported yesterday.
A spokesman cautioned, however, "We simply don't think there has been a case of transmission from an AIDS patient to someone who takes care of him." None of the four is believed to have had contact with an AIDS patient on the job.
The rate at which health-care workers develop a disease is considered an important indicator of transmissibility. Until recently, every health-care worker diagnosed with AIDS was a member of one of the four high-risk groups: homosexual or bisexual men, Haitian-born residents of the United States, intravenous-drug users and hemophiliacs.
The four cases, some previously reported, cannot be placed in any of these groups. But the CDC's report stressed that the "accuracy of data concerning sexual history and I-V drug use cannot be verified."
"What the CDC has said in the past," said spokesman Don Berreth, "is we are unaware of any case where a patient has transmitted AIDS to a health-care worker, and that is still true."
AIDS, which disrupts the body's immune system and leaves its victims vulnerable to rare cancers and infections, is often fatal. The CDC report said 1,831 cases had been reported.