Zidovudine prophylaxis after accidental exposure to HIV: The Italian experience

Vincenzo Puro, Giuseppe Ippolito, Elio Guzzanti, Irinus Serafin, Gabriella Pagano, Fredy Suter, Graziella Cristini, Claudio Arici, Gioacchino Angarano, Fabrizio Soscia, Alberto Vaglia, Lucio Bonazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To evaluate the use of zidovudine prophylaxis in HIV-exposed health-care workers (HCW) in Italy and to determine its short-term toxicity. Design: Longitudinal, open study with retrospective and prospective collection of data. Setting: All Italian clinical centres that care for HIV-infected patients and are licensed by the Ministry of Health to dispense zidovudine and 30 hospitals participating in the Italian Multicentre Study on Occupational Risk of HIV Infection. Study population: HCW and other individuals who accepted zidovudine prophylaxis after accidental exposure to HIV. Results: Data were collected for 224 HIV-exposed individuals until 30 June 1991. An increase in zidovudine prophylaxis was observed. All but 10 subjects received 1000-1250 mg zidovudine per day. Anaemia (five cases), neutropenia (one case) and an increase in serum alanine aminotransferase levels (two cases) were the only haematochemical side-effects observed; none of the subjects ceased prophylaxis because of side-effects. More than 50% of subjects had constitutional reactions; as a result, prophylaxis was stopped by 29 patients. These adverse effects began within 10 days of prophylaxis; all resolved after prophylaxis was stopped. No HIV-antibody seroconversions were observed after a mean follow-up of 8 months. Conclusions: Zidovudine prophylaxis has become a feature of the management of occupational exposures to HIV in health-care settings; short-term toxicity is mild, dose-related and reversible. Further studies are needed to assess the risk of long-term sequelae.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)963-969
Number of pages7
JournalAIDS (London, England)
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1992


  • HIV infection
  • Occupational exposures
  • Zidovudine prophylaxis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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