ArticleLiterature Review

Risk of Transmission of Blood Borne Infections in Climbing - Consensus Statement of UIAA Medcom

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Abstract

Blood borne infections such as hepatitis B, C (HBV, HBC) and human immunodeficiency disease (HIV) are major health problems globally. As the number of blood borne infections is postulated to increase among athletes, the question to the UIAA Medical Commission arises as to whether there is a risk of transmission in climbing. Using a nominal group consensus model approach a working group was formed during the UIAA Medical Commission's meeting in Adršpach-Zdoóov, in the Czech Republic, 2008. A working document was prepared and circulated via email. After several revisions the following final form was approved by written consent in lieu of a live meeting of the UIAA MedCom on 31st May, 2010: The main pathways of transmission of blood borne infections in athletes are similar to those experienced in the general population. The greatest risk to the athlete for contracting any blood borne pathogen infection is through sexual activity and parenteral drug use, and not in the sporting arena. The transmission risk in climbing is even smaller compared to contact sports. Mandatory HIV, HBV or HCV testing or widespread screening is not recommended, voluntary testing is recommended for all high risk athletes in the same way as for non-athletes. HIV and HBV positive climbers should not be banned from climbing or climbing competitions. The risk of transmission from infected athletes to other athletes is very low, the focus should be on preventive activities and education.

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